Are you struggling to work with Generation iY employees? Tim Elmore’s research (Generation iY: Last Chance to Save Their Future), www.GrowingLeaders.com indicates that one of the “lies” we’ve told those born after 1991 is “you are special”. Parents and educators want the kids to know they are loved and deeply cared for. As a result, the last half of Generation Y’s believe they are truly remarkable. They encounter culture shock when an employer delivers a message that they aren’t measuring up. When performance reviews are completed, the statistical bell curve says 10% of employees should receive an outstanding rating. But coming from a world of grade inflation and self-esteem building, Generation iY think they are much better than average. After years of hearing the “you are special” message, they experience culture shock when they are reprimanded or they don’t advance quickly. They quit, or they feel stuck and frustrated, affecting their attitude at work. What can you do as more and more young people enter the workforce? Here are some suggestions from Elmore’s research:
(1) Mentor your young employees. Let them know you believe in them and have their best interest in mind.
(2) Give them short term projects to experience wins and help them acclimate to the realities of working in the real word.
(3) Take the time to affirm what they do well before discussing improvements they need to make. Celebrate when they do perform well.
(4) Be alert to signs of depression or other stress-related illnesses in young employee and steer them toward appropriate employee assistance programs.
If this sounds like more effort than you‘ve spent with your employees in the past, my advice is to get used to it. The next generation of employees will do best when their employers build intentional relationships that mentor, challenge, and role model integrity. Then they can indeed be “special”.