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?Related
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