Thursday 13 November 2014

Getting the most out of your Gen Y colleagues

The common perception surrounding today’s graduates is that they are entitled, unmotivated individuals who know nothing of hard work. So how can you best work alongside the bright young things that are your Gen Y colleagues? Here are five quick tips on how to work productively with younger staff.

1. Treat them as people first

Senior staff may be content to quietly toil away at their desks all day, but young workers also want to work in a place where they can connect with others. Before asking whether that spreadsheet is ready first thing Monday morning, ask your Gen Y colleague about his or her weekend. Make it clear that you see them as real people, not just cogs in the corporate machine.

2. Challenge their skills

Young workers have oodles of energy, so don’t be afraid to use it! Despite the stereotype, Gen Yers are eager to learn. The best option is to give them stretch assignments that will challenge their skills, while still making sure they get support and recognition along the way. They are the leaders of tomorrow, so you will also be laying a solid foundation for their future.

3. Acknowledge their achievements

Another popular stereotype is that young people are self-absorbed. But weren’t most of us self-conscious and hungry for approval early in our own careers? Let them know you appreciate their contributions, however insignificant. If they feel valued, they will also feel more positive and motivated.

4. Be flexible

Your Gen Y colleagues grew up in a world that indulges them with an almost endless variety of ways to access information and complete a task. This doesn’t mean letting go of all structure, but you will get better results from your Gen Y workmates if you let their creativity and initiative flourish, just as long as they are clear on what they need to deliver. Give them space to work smarter, not harder, and they will be more productive and satisfied.

5. Be socially responsible

Generation Y is already rising through the ranks as the next wave of leaders and policymakers. They have grown up in an age of rapid social change and pressing environmental concerns, and they want to take a leading role in shaping their future. Jump on social media to discover which issues matter most to them. Make the workplace green – reduce paper usage, conserve energy and put in bike racks for staff who pedal to work.

Remember that Gen Yers really do want to make a contribution and forge a valuable, lasting career. Are you ready to offer the flexibility, support and recognition that will convince them to stay with you?

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