Recruitment Tips, Employer Trends, and Hiring Insights from CareerBuilder

Employee Engagement > Generational Hiring

Putting the “Super” Back in Supervise

If you’re a manager – and stop me if you’ve heard this one before – it really helps your employees to not be a jerk. The Onion recently released this “study” that, as is typical of the satire newsmagazine, made me laugh: “Not Being an A**hole May Boost Employee Morale.”  Ah, it’s funny because it’s true.  

As a refugee former employee at a company that made the dysfunctional atmosphere of Wernham Hogg look like Google, I can relate (more than I’d prefer to) with David Silverman’s recent post in the Harvard Business Review about the “11 Habits of the Worst Boss I Ever Had.”

In retrospect, however, I’ll admit that, perhaps it wasn’t so much that my boss was a terrible manager, but just that she didn’t understand my work habits anymore than I understood her management style, and this discrepancy became a major source of conflict.  (Still, sometimes her words…they hurt.)

In this BNET video about managing Generation Y, Lynne Lancaster, co-author of “When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work,” actually touches upon some of the “habits” Silverman mentions, offering insight as to why these habits irk employees – particularly those of Generation Y – and what managers need to know about managing this group the right way.  

I’m going to focus on Generation Y here because it’s likely that, if you’re hiring for entry-level or near entry-levels positions right now, the majority of your applicants are made up of this group.  At nearly 80 million strong, “the Millenials” – as this group, born between 1980 and 2000, is also known – are quickly filling in the gap left behind by retiring baby boomers. The great thing about this generation is that they’re well-educated, tech-savvy, confident, optimistic, practical and hard-working.  What’s tricky about them is that their attitudes and work habits are often quite different than that of the Gen Xer’s and baby boomers, which, for managers used to working with the latter age groups, takes some getting used to.

Lancaster outlines some tips for becoming BFF’s with understanding and effectively managing this generation:

  • One thing to understand about this generation is that they are in demand – and they know it. That’s not to say that they don’t mind working hard, says Lancaster, but they expect to get something back for working extra hours. 
  • It is essential that you’re very clear with this group about your expectations from the start.  Know that millenials like to work collaboratively, so it might be worthwhile to put them in teams of two for projects.
  • Be very specific about what you want accomplished.  They’re great multi-taskers, but they still want – and expect – guidance.  While you don’t want to micromanage, be sure to check in with this group every once in a while to offer any needed input or direction.
  • Be a role model. This one seems a little after school special-y to me, but I’ll go with it. According to Lancaster, Gen Yers, who grew up with parents who were great role models, expect to see that same kind of leadership in their professional lives today.
  • Keep them challenged with projects that pique their interest and push them to learn.  And as much as you can, create a fun environment.

Above all, show respect for their ideas. They may be younger, but they’re forward-thinking and goal-oriented.  Millenials need love, too, and knowing they have your respect encourages them to generate their ideas and bring them to the table. 

What do you think? What has been your greatest challenge in managing this generation, and how have you overcome it?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
22 comments
Scott
Scott

I must say, I am very luckey to have a boss that goes out of his way to make me feel part of the team. Even though we are seperated in age by (I think) over 25 years, he has always been very good at giving me direction, and then allowing me to deliver the final product. It is nice to have that kind of leadership in the office. I believe I am more productive when I don't have to run everything by my boss twice a day, more like once a week.

Scott
Scott

I must say, I am very luckey to have a boss that goes out of his way to make me feel part of the team. Even though we are seperated in age by (I think) over 25 years, he has always been very good at giving me direction, and then allowing me to deliver the final product. It is nice to have that kind of leadership in the office. I believe I am more productive when I don't have to run everything by my boss twice a day, more like once a week.

DD Figueroa
DD Figueroa

I completely agree with Michelle. I am a 35 year old(young :-)) HR manager, and I was raised by parents who taught me to work hard to achieve success in life. It's amazing(and disheartening)for me to see the work ethic of the younger generations. I don't understand what went wrong! There's no committment, loyalty, or motivation when it comes to jobs/careers. Many of them expect to be pampered and hand-held. They don't seem to understand that we are in a Global economy. Long gone are the days that you have security with a company. As easy as it was to recruit and hire them, they can be replaced, demoted, or laid off(in most cases). You have to make yourself indispensable in this market. It really pains me to think about the future and what we will be faced with as a result.

DD Figueroa
DD Figueroa

I completely agree with Michelle. I am a 35 year old(young :-)) HR manager, and I was raised by parents who taught me to work hard to achieve success in life. It's amazing(and disheartening)for me to see the work ethic of the younger generations. I don't understand what went wrong! There's no committment, loyalty, or motivation when it comes to jobs/careers. Many of them expect to be pampered and hand-held. They don't seem to understand that we are in a Global economy. Long gone are the days that you have security with a company. As easy as it was to recruit and hire them, they can be replaced, demoted, or laid off(in most cases). You have to make yourself indispensable in this market. It really pains me to think about the future and what we will be faced with as a result.

Karen
Karen

The problem that I have w/Gen Y folk is their sense of entitlement. Just like Andrea says - they march on you and tell you they have decided to work different days or hours - they don't ask, they are oblivious to the concept that the company pays them to work shifts the company needs. It is all about what they want.

Karen
Karen

The problem that I have w/Gen Y folk is their sense of entitlement. Just like Andrea says - they march on you and tell you they have decided to work different days or hours - they don't ask, they are oblivious to the concept that the company pays them to work shifts the company needs. It is all about what they want.

Julie
Julie

I don't agree, but Melissa is entitled to her opinion, and I don't think the critique was supposed to be of her, just the article.

I think the article was good, by the way. I a 50ish, and I agree with Stephanie that most often the issues are not generational, but more work ethic or personality issues.

Most of the time when you treat people with respect, they in turn respect you, no matter what age.

Julie
Julie

I don't agree, but Melissa is entitled to her opinion, and I don't think the critique was supposed to be of her, just the article.

I think the article was good, by the way. I a 50ish, and I agree with Stephanie that most often the issues are not generational, but more work ethic or personality issues.

Most of the time when you treat people with respect, they in turn respect you, no matter what age.

Scott Quinn
Scott Quinn

Omar is exactly right, especially with respect to Melissa. I have a mental image off Angela from "The Office" and that is not good.

One point that I never see or hear mentioned in any discussion on the GenY crowd is that their entire perception of how companies treat workers is entirely different than any generation before them. Think about it. I am 40 and I know people who worked at companies for 20 years and then retired. My father-in-law worked for the same company for 47.5 years. A 22 year-old today would have been 7 years old in 1993. His memories--and hence understanding--of work are that companies hire when times are good and dump people when they no longer need them. They are cynical before they are old enough to be cynical. My read on Gen Yers is that they know how the game is played and want everything they can get from an employer before they are caught up in a layoff. I think Cathie gets it right, too, when she points out that they will stay if you'll just listen and be willing to change.

Scott Quinn
Scott Quinn

Omar is exactly right, especially with respect to Melissa. I have a mental image off Angela from "The Office" and that is not good.

One point that I never see or hear mentioned in any discussion on the GenY crowd is that their entire perception of how companies treat workers is entirely different than any generation before them. Think about it. I am 40 and I know people who worked at companies for 20 years and then retired. My father-in-law worked for the same company for 47.5 years. A 22 year-old today would have been 7 years old in 1993. His memories--and hence understanding--of work are that companies hire when times are good and dump people when they no longer need them. They are cynical before they are old enough to be cynical. My read on Gen Yers is that they know how the game is played and want everything they can get from an employer before they are caught up in a layoff. I think Cathie gets it right, too, when she points out that they will stay if you'll just listen and be willing to change.

Stephanie
Stephanie

I speak from a unique perspective, as I am both a GenY'er and the person who hires and onboards new employees at a very large mental health company. The people I hire are my peers in age and I have great respect for their passion to please if you set up clear guidelines for them and mentor them. From some of the responses here I can see why GenY'ers get a bad rap from time to time. If they are paired with a closed minded supervisor then they do not blossom into the great employees they have the potential to become. Generation aside, supervisors need to find ways to connect with their staff and yes respect for supervisor is part of that. But, quite frankly, respect is earned! Supervisors make their employees who they are and some are too quick to say its a "generational issue" when there are any problems.

I LOVED this article, it was thought provoking in that it encourages us all to better ourselves and in turn better those that we supervise and our companies!

Stephanie
Stephanie

I speak from a unique perspective, as I am both a GenY'er and the person who hires and onboards new employees at a very large mental health company. The people I hire are my peers in age and I have great respect for their passion to please if you set up clear guidelines for them and mentor them. From some of the responses here I can see why GenY'ers get a bad rap from time to time. If they are paired with a closed minded supervisor then they do not blossom into the great employees they have the potential to become. Generation aside, supervisors need to find ways to connect with their staff and yes respect for supervisor is part of that. But, quite frankly, respect is earned! Supervisors make their employees who they are and some are too quick to say its a "generational issue" when there are any problems.

I LOVED this article, it was thought provoking in that it encourages us all to better ourselves and in turn better those that we supervise and our companies!

Cathie
Cathie

Andrea,

I agree GenYers need handholding and view a 9 to 5 schedule as a "guideline". I've learned to be flexible with them (btw I'm a 50-something boomer). My experience as shown that they will stay with an employer who is flexible and understanding - they will go elsewhere if their needs aren't meet. Because they are in high demand, they don't hesitate to change employers.

Cathie
Cathie

Andrea,

I agree GenYers need handholding and view a 9 to 5 schedule as a "guideline". I've learned to be flexible with them (btw I'm a 50-something boomer). My experience as shown that they will stay with an employer who is flexible and understanding - they will go elsewhere if their needs aren't meet. Because they are in high demand, they don't hesitate to change employers.

Andrea Loar
Andrea Loar

I agree with Michelle, as my experience with GenYers has been mostly negative. My biggest complaint is a lack of initiative- I actually have to write daily lists for some of my employees! Also, rather than filling what shifts need to be worked, they are quick to tell me exactly when they can work and when they can't- no flexibility about it. Wait- am I their boss or are they mine? I'm not sure anymore.

Andrea Loar
Andrea Loar

I agree with Michelle, as my experience with GenYers has been mostly negative. My biggest complaint is a lack of initiative- I actually have to write daily lists for some of my employees! Also, rather than filling what shifts need to be worked, they are quick to tell me exactly when they can work and when they can't- no flexibility about it. Wait- am I their boss or are they mine? I'm not sure anymore.

Michelle
Michelle

I think the title was misleading but, as both the HR & Admin Mngr, I'm always looking for ways to connect to the "peeps". I didn't get out of the article much I haven't already heard. My experience with the younger generation has been one of a different opinion: They have tended to want their hands held, need constant praise in order to get anything completed, picky about what assignments they will do & complain about a job they accepted and are being paid for. I love the youth's ability to bring new ideas to the table- just do it with some respect for those of us who clawed and worked our ways to the top. P.S. I'm only 37 years old but, I was raised by adults who expected more of me and how I presented myself with adults- in the workplace or otherwise. Either way, success takes great listening skills, acceptance of the whole person & sometimes just agreeing to disagree. There is a happy medium where all parties survive- and succeed. - Michelle

Michelle
Michelle

I think the title was misleading but, as both the HR & Admin Mngr, I'm always looking for ways to connect to the "peeps". I didn't get out of the article much I haven't already heard. My experience with the younger generation has been one of a different opinion: They have tended to want their hands held, need constant praise in order to get anything completed, picky about what assignments they will do & complain about a job they accepted and are being paid for. I love the youth's ability to bring new ideas to the table- just do it with some respect for those of us who clawed and worked our ways to the top. P.S. I'm only 37 years old but, I was raised by adults who expected more of me and how I presented myself with adults- in the workplace or otherwise. Either way, success takes great listening skills, acceptance of the whole person & sometimes just agreeing to disagree. There is a happy medium where all parties survive- and succeed. - Michelle

Omar Martin
Omar Martin

@ Melissa = C'mon.. grow a personality will you?

Thats exactly the point here... sometimes as managers and business owners we get a liitle to 'stuffy' and uptite. That reflects in the way we run our business. I actually applaud career builder for tearing down the brick wall and communicating to us in 'laymans' terms.

I think this was a well written article that truly hits home and Melissa needs to lighten up if she wants to be well liked amongst her employees and her peers.

So go ahead... loosen up the top button, roll up the sleeves and COMMUNICATE with your peeps in a genuine fashion. People will connect with you and your management efforts will go a long way!!!

To Your Success,
Omar Martin
www.Omar-Martin.com

Omar Martin
Omar Martin

@ Melissa = C'mon.. grow a personality will you?

Thats exactly the point here... sometimes as managers and business owners we get a liitle to 'stuffy' and uptite. That reflects in the way we run our business. I actually applaud career builder for tearing down the brick wall and communicating to us in 'laymans' terms.

I think this was a well written article that truly hits home and Melissa needs to lighten up if she wants to be well liked amongst her employees and her peers.

So go ahead... loosen up the top button, roll up the sleeves and COMMUNICATE with your peeps in a genuine fashion. People will connect with you and your management efforts will go a long way!!!

To Your Success,
Omar Martin
www.Omar-Martin.com

Melissa Ortiz
Melissa Ortiz

I think the title that came through as "dont be a jerk" was extremely inapproriate. Career Builder really should have thought that one through beofre posting it.

Melissa Ortiz
Melissa Ortiz

I think the title that came through as "dont be a jerk" was extremely inapproriate. Career Builder really should have thought that one through beofre posting it.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to all who commented on my earlier post about supervising Generation Y – it generated some insightful conversation about the generation gap, so I thought it worthwhile to [...]

  2. [...] is unlikely full leadership potential will be reached by anyone. We’ve discussed leadership here recently as it relates to shortfalls in managing Gen Y and bosses not being highly regarded by employees, so in this new series of posts, we’ll be [...]

Stay Connected

Subscribe