By Hazel McCallum
The world of work is changing. Generation Y (and soon Generation Z) employees expect to work differently than previous generations. Research carried out by Ashridge Business School showed that younger employees entering the workplace don’t want to ‘do time’ as their predecessors did. They want to get ahead and they want to get there fast. They grew up in a different environment and come to the workplace with different skills. They’re not motivated by the same things and they approach work relationships differently.
Therein lies the problem
The world has changed dramatically. Rapid changes in technology, communication and the way business is run provides a very different workplace to that encountered by their parents.
One of the biggest concerns for managers interviewed by researchers was retention of young people. Compared to past generations, Managers see Generation Ys as being impatient and apt to leave if they are not having their needs met. This then contributes to worries about succession planning and business continuity because graduates generally do not aspire to the jobs of their more mature colleagues. So, this leaves Managers with the question of how to motivate them.
Managers also feel strongly that today’s graduates lack experience – not only work experience but life experience and the interpersonal skills so essential in building relationships, meeting deadlines, managing their emotions and the emotions of others.
What can Managers do?
In some circumstances a Manager may be managing a team of young, Generation Y employees but answering to a Baby Boomer or Generation X. Each of these will have their own ‘map’ of the working world with values and drivers typical of that generation. Managers would benefit from understanding the difference between the various generations and how they can meet the needs of each.
They particularly need to understand Generation Y employees, what motivates them and how to get the best out of them.
Generation Ys want to be managed differently. They don’t respond well to a didactic style of management and seek more coaching and mentoring. Managers may need to adapt their management practices to be less authoritarian and more of a coaching approach. To many, this way of managing may feel threatening – like giving away their power and control. Others may struggle to adopt this style of managing without becoming too casual or fear employees may take advantage of them and that they may be perceived as being ‘weak’. This can be hard for a lot of Managers and they need training and coaching themselves to help them take on this new style effectively.
Challenging and interesting work’ was found to be the overwhelming motivator for both Managers and Graduates in the report.
Providing the right level of challenge for graduates can be very disconcerting for Managers as, perceiving a lack of skills in the graduates to cope with the task, the act of giving responsibility and a challenge to graduates may feel too risky. This is where skilful management, negotiations of ways of working and effective delegation skills are essential.
The right amount of intervention, encouragement and supervision will mean graduates rise to the challenge and stretch themselves and achieve peak performance, too much and they will be left feeling resentful, demeaned and micro-managed.
Unmet expectations in work cause graduates to leave but many managers find graduates want promotion before they are ready.
Graduates think they lack technical skills; managers think graduates lack people skills!
The wise Manager addresses this by seeking out the right type of training for their graduates to give them the interpersonal skills they need to survive and thrive in the workplace. Helping graduates gain this ‘wisdom’ not only benefits the Manager directly in that they have a more mature team member but the organisation becomes known as a great people developer. This means they’re more likely to retain current talent but also attract future talent and entices back those that who left to return bringing with them further experience and insight and knowledge of the competition.
Hazel McCallum has a particular interest in helping managers and Generation Y graduates to ‘survive and thrive’ together by improving communication, building performance skills, increasing resilience and developing Emotional Intelligence. This means that organisations reap the benefits of better engagement, lower turnover and higher staff morale.