6 leadership tools to leading Generation Y


Gen Y, Gen, Y Gen Y…how many times have you heard people commenting about Gen Y? The New York Times even published a piece labeling them the “Go Nowhere Generation” whilst “lazy, entitled narcissists” is what the Millenials were labeled in an article run by Time Magazine writes Petar Lackovic

Whatever your thoughts, the close to 100 million Gen Y workforce is gaining momentum and even though they say knowledge is power, it is my belief that the implementation of knowledge leads to results, so let’s approach this topic head on and work out the best way for us all to get along and achieve the goal that binds us all together in business… ongoing success.

Leading the biggest movement of Entrepreneurs under 40 in Australia, I am on a daily basis immersed with the life and times of Gen Y…and if I don’t mind saying so, loving every minute of it.

I was brought up with the understanding that if you work hard for long enough, eventually you would become successful…it’s about the amount of elbow grease you put in.

I was also taught that you “speak when you are spoken to” and those in positions of power “knew it all” and because of their seniority (mostly aged based), they knew best and were not to be challenged…you’ll get your time to voice your opinion and challenge status quo when you get to their position and not before!”

I look back now and ask myself, “If I have had of stuck by these opinions and carried theses beliefs, how long would it have taken me to climb the corporate ladder?”

How many reading this can remember their eagerness in wanting to ‘get to the top?’ I know I can. Is there a little Gen Y in all of us wanting to come out?

Put these Six Leadership Tools to Leading Gen Y into practice and maybe you’ll see a mini me looking back at you one day.

Walk the walk and talk the talk:

Like it or not, respect for time and age doesn’t sit well with Gen Y. However Gen Y will follow you to the ends of the earth and work the hours, (they will utilise their youthful energy) if they have someone they can look up to. Job title is irrelevant. Job performance is everything.

2 Culture, culture, culture:

“Do what you love or don’t do it”…Gen Y have had this line poured down their throats and they believe it, why shouldn’t they? They have been raised in the www./google phase and they know what great companies (like Google) do for their staff and the types of environments these companies create for their teams.

It doesn’t mean you have to triple your HR budget and splash out on sleeping pods and gaming rooms, but what’s important to them, now more than ever, is surrounding themselves in an enjoyable Culture.

Gen Y understand that not all work is fun, however, they also believe, rather than being in an average environment doing great tasks, they would prefer to be doing average tasks in a great environment.

Like it or not there is culture brewing in your business right now…it’s either the culture you are actively building or the one that is building itself through your inaction.

When your team can see that there is a conscious effort and plan put in place to create a culture they believe in. (which includes their input) then you will have a loyal Gen Y team.

Involve them, let them challenge and  be Ok with their mistakes:

They are much more opinionated than previous generations who were told to “speak when spoken to”.

Gen Y will often see things differently to others and will often take a different route when completing tasks.

I’m not saying it’s alright for Gen Ys to make mistakes and wrap them up in cotton wool when they do make a mistake, but you may need to modify your reactions to those mistakes.

Give them permission to challenge and to see that you’re not overprotective of your way of doing things. Do this and you will see a team that is super motivated to exceed targets with the drive and determination to hit their targets twice as fast.

Show them how what they do matters:

Wanting to see that their contribution is making a valuable impact to the organisation is one of the best ways to have your Gen Yers go that extra mile.

Regular updates on how their work is benefiting the company and those around them, gives them internal bragging rights (within their own mind), that they are progressing. This generates the stimulation to crave this feeling again.

In team meetings, we can associate their duties and how they are impacting with the company’s vision. This group validation process will trigger a higher level of self worth and openness to work at a level you wish everyone did.

5 Time & reward: 

It used to be bide your time, work your way up, put in the hard yards and eventually someone will notice and you’ll be rewarded one day.

They see it as, ‘I’m delivering so get out of my way, let me at it…and reward me at the same time’.

Instant rewards (not just annual reviews) and instant justified feedback means a great deal. Respect is lost if there is no justification.

Gen Y love to feel valued and will search for it and be attracted to opportunities that feed this.

6 Move fast:

They love to see that the organisation they spend their working days at, the organisation they tell their family and friends about, post on Facebook and Twitter about, is constantly progressing.

Gen Y is super-flexible, adaptable and loves change. They don’t see change as risk but as a necessity to growth and further ongoing success.

If you have or are showing little or no interest in 2.0 projects within your organisation, then be ready for your Gen Yer’s to switch off, come across as lazy or be distracted by the next shiny object. To them the 2.0 project is not a shiny object, but an innovative idea they believe in.

It is every leader’s responsibility to extract the best from their team. The better you know your team, the easier it will be to create a loyal and resilient army that will succeed in today world. BF

Petar Lackovic is an international speaker, coach and business adviser, who specialises in implementing successful strategies and the CEO of leading entrepreneur education facility, The Entourage.

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