Cam Marston in Motivating the “What’s In It For Me?” Workforce, suggests that if you understand the viewpoint of Generation X and Y workers, you can learn to lead them effectively.
His advice includes:
1. Don’t confuse them by phrasing orders as suggestions: Boomer managers are often reluctant to give clear, direct, specific instructions. Although they really mean “Do it,” they couch their orders in phrases such as “You might want to consider…”, or “Have you thought about…” Gen Xers and New Millennials (Gen Yers) hear these as suggestions. They’re caught off guard when you’re later surprised to find out they didn’t carry out your order. Their attitude is “If you want me to do something, tell me. I’m not interested in trying to figure out some vague suggestion.”
2. Talk with them about more than just work: Younger workers are looking for an employer who is interested in them. When you talk with them, instead of always steering the conversation to work, let them talk about things that are important to them. When you try to lead them, they won’t listen to you unless you’ve listened to them first.
3. Be a leader, not a friend: Knowing and being interested in your employees isn’t the same as becoming their friends. What they’re looking for is a role model, a mentor, and a leader—not a buddy. You need to be out front, pushing for your people to succeed, coddling employees only when it is appropriate and kicking them in the backside when things go wrong.
4. Reward good work quickly: Gen X and Y employees are used to instant feedback and gratification. As soon as you get good results from them—such as client praise for good customer service, a deadline met early or a sales target exceeded—you need to celebrate that. Have something ready to acknowledge their good behaviour, whether through gifts or other perks or (a better bet) a heartfelt thank you.
Is working with other generations difficult?
Do your company leaders manage/handle the expectations of the different generations well?
Does your company offer workshops on understanding other generations?
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If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!