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Blog : Our future's bright...


Our future's bright...

Generation Y (Gen Y), millennials, or simply people born between the late seventies and late nineties, are our future business leaders. According to a study by Ernst and Young, in the last five years a whopping 87% of Gen Y managers took on a management position compared with just 38% of Gen X and 19% of baby boomers. Furthermore the Harvard Business Review estimates that by next year Gen Y will make up 50% of our workforce.  So what do we know about Gen Y and how will this shape the world of business in the future?

Gen Y are commonly known to have many positive traits:

  • Having grown up in more diverse cultures, they are inclusive leaders who are less likely to stereotype
  • Team players who are highly collaborative
  • Ambitious
  • Adaptable
  • Tech savvy and able to use social media to advance in business
  • Motivated by feeling worthwhile or making a difference
  • Less afraid to ask questions and try new things
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

However, when searching in more depth there are also suggestions that the following could apply:

  • Inexperienced and not ready for management
  • Place more emphasis on flexibility and work-life balance than hard work
  • Not prepared to stay in jobs which aren’t perfect for them therefore more prone to job hopping
  • Concerned mainly by individual promotion and putting themselves first
  • Think they are owed something by their company including a career path laid out for them
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Risk-adverse and don’t like going against the grain to make difficult decisions
  • Not good at communication apart from social media and ‘text language’

The stereotypes on the latter list are just this and although possibly taken into account shouldn’t be relied on; particularly when this generation has so much to offer and will soon vastly outweigh any other in the workplace. This means the older generations (Gen X and baby boomers) should think of Gen Y as ‘different’ rather than better or worse. Even more, it’s important for these older generations to distill their leadership knowledge and expertise; preparing Gen Y’s to take over the reins in years to come.

So how can business leaders’ provide the best possible leadership for this burgeoning generation? A survey by Hayes named the following eight qualities as most important in the workplace:  able to motivate others, supportive, fair, knowledgeable, has integrity, decisive, confident, and direct.

Here are our thoughts on enabling Gen Y to improve on these:

  • Able to motivate others: encourage passion in your teams by involving them in projects and giving them ownership. Ensure they receive regular, constructive feedback and help them to pass this on to their teams
  • Supportive: in the same study, Hayes found that 51% of Gen Y would like a leader who they see as a coach/mentor; so work with them to make sure the necessary skills are in place. Also use group activities such as team lunches or after-work treats to build a community which everyone feels they are a part of
  • Fair: let people know that you welcome their ideas and that they should feel free to contribute them. An example of this is that all members of the Purple Cubed team have been involved in the development of our new  Talent Toolbox system
  • Knowledgeable: encourage people to be aware of their talents and areas they need to improve on; allowing them to take control of their own learning and development particularly around communication and decision making
  • Integrity: use succession planning to make sure people know how they will progress. This also benefits the company as people can be promoted internally. Transparency around career decisions, pay and benefits is also a good idea so everyone knows they are being treated fairly
  • Decisive: promotefreedom within a framework. People should know when to make decisions and not be afraid to ask for support when needed
  • Confident: a confident employee is one who has the tools to do their job and do it well. Identify gaps early on and work with the individual to ensure they have the correct development to ensure for competence
  • Direct: be honest about the company’s mission and how each employee can fit into it. Sharing financial information and goal setting as a company is a great way of people feel they are a part of the one team working towards the same vision

Do the different generations work cohesively at your company? Feel free to share your tips and experiences

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