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10 Tips for Managing ‘The Facebook Generation’

“We need to look around our environment and say, ‘Is our environment encouraging the best talent possible? Are we choosing the right generational mix of people?’” Meagan Johnson says about the responsibilities managers have today.

Johnson and her father, Larry, are multigenerational workforce experts who recently spoke with me about their new book, Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters–Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work, and the challenge of managing multigenerational workforces.  One of the unique challenges managers face today, they told me, is learning to work with and manage a new generation of workers they refer to as “Linksters.”

Who are Linksters? A Cheat Sheet

  • Also known as “The Facebook Generation,” this group of 15- to 19-year-olds live and breathe technology
  • They still live at home and, unlike previous generations, are typically best friends with their parents
  • They are more tolerant of alternative lifestyles than their predecessors
  • They’re very much involved in green causes and social activism

Despite all they have to offer, however, Linksters are still very young and inexperienced, and managing them requires understanding the environment in which they grew up as well as the unique way in which they communicate. During our interview, the Johnsons shared 10 tips for managing this generation.

10 Tips for Managing Linksters

  1. Ride herd on them. They have short attention spans and lose interest if the work is boring. If there’s a way to incentivize task accomplishment, do it.
  2. Provide them with job descriptions. Linksters need clear direction about what you expect. This includes basics, such as when you expect them to arrive, number of hours, and duties of the job. They are used to being told what to do, in detail and explicitly.
  3. Treat them like valued coworkers. Linksters are used to a steady diet of connection and communication from family friends. If you have a company party, be sure to invite them. Same with meetings, where appropriate.
  4. Lead by example. Linksters are still trying to figure out how to act and behave. They will look to older coworkers and managers to shape their workplace identity and demeanor.
  5. Orient them to the obvious. Be specific about expectations that may seem obvious. For example, teenagers are used to having their parents cover for them. Make sure they know the consequences of showing up late, taking lunch breaks that are too long, or texting on the job.
  6. Welcome them with open arms. Let your people know them Linksters are joining your team and ask everyone to welcome them. Pair Linksters with buddies — good role models with good work ethics. Call Linksters the night before their first day. Remind them of dress code, arrival time, items to bring, traffic, snacks and water, where to park, whom to contact once they arrive, and quitting time.
  7. Know what songs are on their iPods. Young people have a language that’s distinctly their own. Make an effort to get to know their culture.
  8. Create microcareer paths. If you have a young person manning the cash register, give her other tasks that help her understand different aspects of the business from time to time. This keeps her challenged, engaged, and feeling valued — and sets her up for more responsibility.
  9. Reexamine your uniform policy. Part of being young is having a heightened interest in how you look. Are you asking your Linksters to wear embarrassing uniforms? Are they comfortable? Are they outdated? Try to remember what being a teen felt like.
  10. Thank their parents. Linksters are young and may still live at home with parents. Invite their parents for a visit, call and express appreciation for raising a great kid, and thank them for helping to get your young employee to work on time, well rested and prepared.

 

Meagan and Larry Johnson are the founders of the Johnson Training Group, which help companies manage multigenerational workplaces.

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.
11 comments
mooncusser
mooncusser

Let me add that this "advice" is not advice but is enabling poor behavior. Wake up. Feedback is wonderful thing but some bosses are only willing to kick you in the pants when you don't perform. Many aren't ready with tons of "atta boy's!" Grow up - move on. You should be the judge of whether you did a job well. If the boss doesn't like it, it's incumbent upon YOU to find out where you went astray. Be proactive - that's the adult way to do things.

mooncusser
mooncusser

Let me add that this "advice" is not advice but is enabling poor behavior. Wake up. Feedback is wonderful thing but some bosses are only willing to kick you in the pants when you don't perform. Many aren't ready with tons of "atta boy's!" Grow up - move on. You should be the judge of whether you did a job well. If the boss doesn't like it, it's incumbent upon YOU to find out where you went astray. Be proactive - that's the adult way to do things.

mooncusser
mooncusser

What a crock of krap. This country is in trouble with the up and coming work force. I know kids in that age group who are go-getters and others who are lucky to get a degree by the time they're 30 because they're lazy parasites. Parenting is the key. People, you are not your children's BFFs, you are a parent and have to initiate boundaries, rules, expectations. If you can't handle the responsibilities of being a parent, get sterilized or something. Do the world a favor. I own a small business but am NOT in the child care field therefore I don't have to be wiping your "child's" snotty little nose or their fanny. Most companies have a policy and procedures manual, which is provided to each employee as well as posted on the Intranet et al. Read it and follow the instructions. GROW TF up already.

mooncusser
mooncusser

What a crock of krap. This country is in trouble with the up and coming work force. I know kids in that age group who are go-getters and others who are lucky to get a degree by the time they're 30 because they're lazy parasites. Parenting is the key. People, you are not your children's BFFs, you are a parent and have to initiate boundaries, rules, expectations. If you can't handle the responsibilities of being a parent, get sterilized or something. Do the world a favor. I own a small business but am NOT in the child care field therefore I don't have to be wiping your "child's" snotty little nose or their fanny. Most companies have a policy and procedures manual, which is provided to each employee as well as posted on the Intranet et al. Read it and follow the instructions. GROW TF up already.

Peter Saumur
Peter Saumur

How is all this advice different than that the last 3 generations or, more importantly, why shouldn't you being doing this with other types of workers (exception being calling up the parents)?

Darcy
Darcy

There are some good things in this list, but I have to respectfully disagree with number 10. Parents should not be involved in their children's workplace. Parents can and should coach their children about workplace issues, but their children should handle the issues. I DESPISE it when a parent calls me to talk to me about an issue that the employee should be dealing with.
Otherwise a good list, that's just one of my buttons.

Darcy
Darcy

There are some good things in this list, but I have to respectfully disagree with number 10. Parents should not be involved in their children's workplace. Parents can and should coach their children about workplace issues, but their children should handle the issues. I DESPISE it when a parent calls me to talk to me about an issue that the employee should be dealing with.
Otherwise a good list, that's just one of my buttons.

Jay Goldman
Jay Goldman

Thanks for the excellent list Mary!

I'd add one more: give them feedback!

'Linksters', like their fellow Gen Ys and Millenials, are addicted to feedback. They crave it not only as a way to understand whether they're doing their jobs, but also as a critical component of the value they get from the job. "Lack of feedback" has often turned up on the reasons younger folks look to leave their current positions.

Jay Goldman
http://rypple.com

Jay Goldman
Jay Goldman

Thanks for the excellent list Mary!

I'd add one more: give them feedback!

'Linksters', like their fellow Gen Ys and Millenials, are addicted to feedback. They crave it not only as a way to understand whether they're doing their jobs, but also as a critical component of the value they get from the job. "Lack of feedback" has often turned up on the reasons younger folks look to leave their current positions.

Jay Goldman
http://rypple.com

Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz

Definitely a valid point, Darcy - and I'm sure you're not alone in that sentiment. In fact, number 10 surprised me, too, but the Johnsons swear by it!

Mary Lorenz
Mary Lorenz

Thank you, Jay! I think you're spot on with that one.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Meagan and Larry Johnson are the founders of the Johnson Training Group, which help companies manage multigenerational workplaces.  For more information on multi-generational workforce management, check out my follow-up post, in which I list the Johnsons’ 10 tips for managing Linksters. [...]

  2. [...] Meagan and Larry Johnson are the founders of the Johnson Training Group, which help companies manage multigenerational workplaces.  For more information on multi-generational workforce management, check out my follow-up post, in which I list the Johnsons’ 10 tips for managing Linksters. [...]

  3. [...] Meagan and Larry Johnson are the founders of the Johnson Training Group, which help companies manage multigenerational workplaces.  For more information on multi-generational workforce management, check out my follow-up post, in which I list the Johnsons’ 10 tips for managing Linksters. [...]

  4. [...] you knew all about generations in the workplace, Linksters came along. Who are these members of the “Facebook Generation” — and when will they be invading your [...]

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