One of our consultants, Kathy Kurnyta, wrote this post following her recent attendance at a presentation by Gustavo Grodnitzky entitled “Understanding and Motivating the Millenial Generation”. Kathy, a Gen Y herself, has an interesting perspective on this topic that we thought you would enjoy. Let us know what you think!

Many of us in the workplace recognize the nuances of working with colleagues from different generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y), but often don’t know how to apply these differences to motivate, develop, and retain talent.

For example, I just concluded a coaching engagement with a female leader who was strong in developing individuals similar to her (e.g., who worked extremely long hours, were seen as loyal employees because of their long tenure, worked their way up within the company, etc.). At the same time, she had some difficulty developing and motivating “younger employees” or Generation Y. As Dr. Grodnitzky discussed in his presentation, there is often a negative stigma with this generation. For example, Gen Y employees are seen as never satisfied, privileged, and difficult to retain because of their tendency to change jobs every two years.

What the leaders of today should recognize (the Baby Boomers) is that a large number of Generation Y individuals are currently entering the workforce or progressing within their careers. They make up the future leaders of organizations. While Baby Boomers were motivated by money and job stability, Generation Y wants to feel a sense of purpose in their job. They want to do “what makes them happy.” As such, to motivate and retain this group, it is important to provide them with opportunities to develop and broaden their skill set and speak to how their work is purposeful and impactful to the organization. Lateral moves are also recommended where they can continuously grow and gain exposure in new areas.
Dr. Gustavo also indicates that Generation Y has much more of a focus on relationships in the workplace, versus previous generations. Where Baby Boomers were accustomed to the notion “No feedback is good feedback,” Gen Y employees want interaction and feedback from their bosses and peers. They also want to work in an environment where they can socialize with others. As such, a motivating boss will be one who takes a personal interest in their Gen Y employees and offers opportunities for social networking.

Lastly, Generation Y employees are motivated by flexibility in their work. Whereas Baby Boomers are accustomed to working in the office setting, Gen Y employees are so connected with technology that they feel they can produce the same amount of work and performance with a flexible work schedule. If your organization allows for flexibility, offering working from home options or flexible work hours would be rewarding for Gen Y employees.

This topic of Generational differences can generate numerous discussions, and this blog touches just the surface. My recommendation for leaders is to be aware and recognize these nuances within your employees. Then you can identify where you need to adapt your management style to retain the best team.