As a manager/supervisor, we will have many different personalities that report to us. I have heard people say that dealing with this younger generation is just impossible. If you think it is impossible, you need to find another career. As managers and supervisors, it is our job to manage and supervise these people. Once you understand generation “Y”, it’s not as difficult as you think. Let’s start with some definitions.
The Great Generation – The people of the Great Generation were born before 1945. They have traditional names and values. They believe that sex was on the honeymoon, you married only once, family is close and marriage is honored, they are influenced by family and church, they hoped to outlive technology, and their motto was “No Sweat”. This generation is detail oriented, thorough, loyal and hard working. They hate ambiguity, are reluctant to buck the system, uncomfortable with conflict and stubborn when they disagree with you.
They are influenced by patriotism, loyalty, and working through hardships to build society. They have seen much change and faced many challenges, thus providing insight and wisdom. The past has provided them new views for the future. They provide outstanding mentorship and have come to realize the necessity of flexibility in changing circumstances. They are busy celebrating life, sharing experience, and increasing friendships, humor, and leisure.
Baby Boomers – The people between the ages of 46 and 64. This is the largest generation in the history of the world. Every 60 seconds someone is turning 50. Their names are Bob, Jim, Tom, David, John, Jr, Kathy, Linda, Mary or Nancy. They believed that sex was in the backseat, married at least twice, and family is meant to be dispersed. They are influenced by family and education, they hoped to master technology and their motto is “No Problem”. This generation is service oriented, driven, have strong people skills, want to please and are good team players. They usually put process ahead of results, are overly sensitive to feedback, are judgmental, and self-centered.
They are influenced by music, events, and social changes. They were brought up to fight for causes and to make statements. They are more serious and focused on doing everything it takes to get the job done. This generation pushed up the divorce rate to 50%. They are busy solidifying careers and family but beginning to simplify and think about their human imprint.
Generation X – The people between the ages of 31 and 45. This is the first generation to be smaller than its preceding generation. Their names are Josh, Brian, Jeff, Ashley, Ray, Melissa, Jennifer, and Amy. They believe that sex is on the internet, you don’t have to get married, family is blended and extended and are influenced by the media. They enjoy technology and their motto is “No Fear”. This generation is adaptable, techno-literate, independent, creative, and not intimidated by authority. They are impatient, have interpersonal relationships, are inexperienced, and cynical.
They were brought up on television, Atari’s, Nintendo’s, VCR’s, and have high levels of energy and creativity. They are private but bring a sense of play. They are fearless in terms of technology and newness. They are highly educated and may be underemployed. They are busy staking themselves out, building relationships and careers.
Generation “Y” – These folks are 30 and younger (1981 - current). Their names are Alexis, Jordan, Taylor, Nicole, Amber, Adam, Dustin, Laci, Jake, and Sean. This generation is even smaller than their preceding generation. They believe sex is ok as long as it is safe. They don’t bother to get married and their idea of family is alternative but respected. They are influenced by their friends and they employ technology. Their motto is “Whatever”.
This generation is optimistic, has tenacity, a heroic spirit, are tech savvy and have multi-tasking capabilities. They have a need for structure, need for supervision, cannot handle difficult people and they are coming to terms with their limitations. They most admire traits of honesty and integrity. They are used to moving at a fast pace. They have a spirit of adventure and desire to have fun. Stress is in the form of prioritizing private life to work life and they may be frustrated staying in one place too long. They are busy transitioning out of school and securing jobs.
As a supervisor, there are some traits we need to adopt.
- Be real and sincere
- Accept that there are more than one solutions to a problem
- Be honest and have integrity
- Make your people look good
- Know that some people believe something so strongly that they will look for ways to prove it
- Be able to explain value in under 20 seconds
- Always ask thought provoking questions
- Accept stupid questions, it may save a life
- Know that accidents happen when people lose focus on the moment
- Encourage and accept feedback
- And promote the concept that hate and discontent take up free rent in your head.
Always remember that stress is caused by knowing exactly what you need to do and consistently not doing it. We bring stress upon ourselves. If we alleviate the stress in our lives, we will be better supervisors.
Now, how do we deal with the younger generation? We need to know and understand them to effectively supervise them. It is a proven fact that people are generally suited for the world they will inherit. It is up to us to change this younger generation to conform to our values that the company has. We are their leaders.
Here is how we lead the younger generation:
· People under 30 were awarded achievement with no accomplishment to build self esteem. Their teachers and coaches took away competition. This doesn’t work well in the work place. We need to instill in them that they will receive rewards with accomplishments.
· People under 30 don’t have a sense of urgency. They are laid back. We need to show them how to put that sense of urgency in their lives. You have to give them a deadline. Make sure they clearly understand what must be accomplished and by when.
· We are different from generation “Y”. We need to praise them throughout the entire process and not just at the end. They have had their hands held through school and that is how they are. We need to be supportive at all times.
· Young people like technology. Find a way to mix technology into their routine to keep them busy.
· We shouldn’t talk about how we used to do it. It may make the younger people take chances to show their bravery.
· We must pay attention to the younger employees. We cannot ignore them. They are used to constant interaction and praise.
· The younger people don’t have the same maturity level as those preceding generations. You need to clearly state rules and guidelines.
If you learn the above 7 items and implement them into your supervising skills, your stress level will go down. This is the workforce we have. We must learn how to supervise them and help eliminate turnover. Once you start being an effective leader to generation “Y”, you can guide and coach them to be the type of employee you want. Remember, they are in a transitional period in their lives. They are moldable and this is your opportunity to make them great.