As we go around from one organization to the next, we are often asked about the younger generation and their different attitudes toward work and the organization as a whole. We are talking about people born since 1980: Generation X; Generation Y and "Milleniaums." Wikipedia says they are often called the MTV Generation. These are the people who have grown up with: the Challenger disaster; the fall of the Berlin Wall; Bill Clinton; the savings and loan crisis; the introduction of the home computer; the AIDS epidemic; Iran hostage crisis; Desert Storm; the dot-com bubble; alternative rock music. Wikipedia goes on to comment on the heterogeneous nature of the X Generation: exhibiting diversity of race, class, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
However you describe them, many supervisors are convinced that the younger generations have our organizations on a slippery slope to disaster. Their lack of long term commitment to an organization; the importance they place on experience and growth; the way they balance their obligations to themselves and family as opposed to the workplace are all seen as presenting challenges, no, threats, to today's managers.
Sometimes the literature contains articles which provide some help to us older managers as we seek to cope with the younger generation in the workplace. After all, they are the people who are applying for jobs in our organizations, we had better learn how to work with them.
So, I was very intrigued when I saw Gail Hahn's article in the 9/21/10 issue of Business and Finance, "Mentors vs. Tormentors: 50 Ways to Ditch Your Gen X and Gen Y Employees". It boils down to the following conclusion. If nothing else, Generations X and Y present a real challenge to the now old fashioned "command and control" brand of management.
The younger generation of workers is not prepared to take "my way or the highway". Nor or they ready to accept the idea, without testing, that you, their manager, have their best interest at heart. They want choices and input. You are confident that you will make the best choice for them, of available alternatives. They are suspicious. They will want you to lay out the options and listen to their input. They want to interact; they want to be heard. They want to feel like they are part of the team; like they are one of the reasons the organization is able to meet its mission. They will be much more responsive to the commitments of their team then the directives of their supervisor.
In addition, they expect you will be up to date technologically and that you will use technology to solve problems and improve client services. They expect their colleagues will communicate competently be email and texting. Someone recently said, "If you have decided you will not use texting, you have decided not to communicate within anyone In your organization under 35."
Do these ideas feel threatening, make you angry... or do you find them challenging? Do you feel yourself "digging in" or are you ready to change and grow?
Do the leaders in your organization know how to establish positive, working relationships with their direct reports. Or, do supervisors rely on the "gun-to-the-head" brand of management. Want to teach your supervisors to listen; to develop constructive work teams that actually get the job done? Send me an email and receive our weekly newsletter - The Mentor. It's free and every subscriber in June will receive a copy of our new Hiring Report - how to hire top performers consistently. firstname.lastname@example.org