Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1995, is a challenge for many managers. And for good reason! The behavior of individuals Y, sometimes called “digital natives”, differs significantly from their elders: a way of speaking cash, an open questioning of authority, a quest for meaning in their work, a permanent search for a balance between personal and professional life, requests for feedback from their superiors, etc.
The challenge is to better integrate this generation Y and create a relationship of trust with other generations at work.
Qualities That a Manager Must Possess
Of all the qualities that a (super) manager must possess to carry out his function, here are 3 essential qualities that I recommend him to develop if he wants to make his life easier with the Y generation in everyday life.
- Adopt a Position of Resource Manager
We sometimes hear that Generation Y is allergic to authority. This is incorrect. It would be more accurate to say that this generation is allergic to a certain type of authority or style of management: the directive. The one I call “I think, so you are”.
The manager who uses the directive style to be respected must spend a lot of energy managing comments like “But why are you asking me this? “, “What’s the point? “. He may even get upset that these ‘young people’ are constantly questioning his authority, hard won over his professional career.
The posture of the principal is incompatible with the way of thinking of the generation Y, just because these individuals were raised as a child king. The latter often gave their opinion and their parents encouraged them to express their wishes.
The manager must evolve into a position of resource manager. In other words, the manager is no longer there to give orders at every turn, but is positioned as a resource center to empower his employees to achieve their goals.
Here is an example to illustrate: a collaborator makes a mistake on a project entrusted to him by his manager. If the manager puts himself in the position of prime contractor: he preaches and withdraws the project, because he believes that his employee has not worked enough or does not have the right skills. If the manager is positioned as a resource manager: he will try to understand what has been missing to his collaborator to move forward and will propose resources for him to complete the project, the help of a colleague, training, coaching etc.
In addition, the resource manager encourages cooperation rather than competition. Use mutual help to move your team forward.
- Be Exemplary
What Generation Y rejects are the values displayed everywhere on company walls, while employees and their managers behave in the opposite of these values.
Example: a business value like listening to the customer while internal managers constantly criticize their customers or even make fun of them openly.
This dissonance between what some companies claim to be or do, and what they are or do in reality, is unbearable for many people, and especially for Generation Y.
The younger generation expects the company to be exemplary when it affirms its values loud and clear. And who should lead the way first in the business according to you?
The manager and all levels of management, managers must seize the leader’s vision and then pass on the actions to their employees. If he wants to be respected by Generation Y, the manager must be exemplary in his behavior: he says what he does and he does what he says. We also speak of integrity. An honest manager, who does his best to be exemplary in the eyes of his colleagues, will be followed, listened to and respected by the younger generation
- Take Care of the Relationship
Last essential quality to develop for the manager in front of the generation Y is to take care of the relationship. What does that mean?
With the rise of the Internet, especially via discussion forums, chats, blogs, etc., Generation Y is used to give its opinion and to get in touch. This, informally and directly, without blah, even some even say … without politeness.
This way of being in a state of permanent communication, reinforced by the new technologies, makes that the generation Y needs to enter into relationship. This is why the manager should pay particular attention to how he gets in touch and communicates with his young colleagues. They are not there just to take down a job and earn a salary; they want to create rewarding relationships and trust.
To take care of the relationship, several levers exist:
- Use the formal mode such as the annual interview or the convocation, AND informal: leave his office door open, say hello in the morning, spend some time in the coffee corner, ask a colleague how he is doing, etc.
- Give feedback to your employees: tell them what you think of their work. And not only when things go wrong, but especially when the work is done well, delivered on time, innovative, etc.
- Implement as much as possible a mode of participative management with your team. For example, instead of always deciding alone, ask your collaborators for advice at meetings or via intranet surveys. They will then feel involved.
- To follow a formation related to the communication and the posture of manager.
Next Step: Putting into Action!
It may be that you have already integrated some of these 3 qualities and that the management of generation Y has no more secret for you. So congratulations and keep going!
Otherwise, if you feel that you can still progress in your generation Y management, here is the action plan that I propose for the next 3 weeks:
- Set a quality to work for the next week. Start with the one you are least comfortable with.
- Define a specific action to perform in the week related to this quality.
- At the end of the week, take stock. How did it go? What has this changed? What impact did you notice?
- Continue the following week with the following quality. And so on!