The Need for Generational Management:
A Gen Y Business Student Speaks Out

This guest post is from Jamie Smith, who comments on my previous question, Does Gen Y Have an Attitude Problem?

Warning: Soap box! (Photo credit Photostock.)

I am guilty of being a part of Gen Y. That said, please continue to read my comment :). I am working on completing my master’s thesis (and I’ve paid my own tuition throughout all schooling).

I love the generational questions that have been such a hotly-debated focus as of late. In fact, it inspired my thesis: Gen Y Employee Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Several important summaries from my research:

1. ¬†Every time a new generation enters the workforce, the negatives are highlighted. Don’t believe me, Boomers? Just ask the Vets. They think your generation consisted of slackers. What we find out, is that yes, each generation has quirks.

  • Boomers are known for their dedicated “face time” at the office and loyalty to organizations.
  • Xers are known for valuing family time over work time, and thus hate to have time wasted in the office.
  • Gen Y grew up in an age where the most precious resource is time. Get more done faster (thanks to technology).

This translates to needing:

  • Flexible schedules (why be in an office when you can volunteer, be social, or accomplish something else),
  • Frequent feedback (it’s not helpful to provide yearly feedback when it’s too late to correct the problem).
  • A sense of value in what they are doing.

2. Prepare yourselves…research has actually shown that Gen Y has more in common with Baby Boomers than other generations. Gen Y has the same drive to work hard, be good at what they do, and contribute to a company. The largest difference is in the value of time – time in the office vs. time wasted.

Baby Boomers are now suffering the consequences of the economy by facing the fact company loyalty is not a two-way street and have left in droves to pursue careers they have a passion for.

Gen Y is also seeking something valuable in their careers, but they want to find that now rather than later. That’s where Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been a helpful tool for “evil” corporations. Give Gen Y a way to contribute while still harnessing their attention and abilities in the corporation. If you have time, research B Corporations. Fascinating concept spurred by the desires of Gen Y.

I have so much research on this and would love to go on about the talents managers can capture from each generation, but I shall spare the page space. Happy to share more if you want to message me, though.

My study group is made up of three generations. It has been a real-world testament to the research I’ve gathered and has shown the research to be correct. Each generation has differences, but it is essential for managers to take the time to alter communication style and task assignment to engage the employee.

The workforce has four generations (thanks to the economy) and will potentially see five in the next few years. That will be a first in our history and will prove to be challenging for any manager who does not take the time to understand generational management.

And, be prepared, the next generation (called Z and many other things) is the prodigy of Gen X, and researchers are suggesting they may need more assistance than any prior generation to be workforce-ready due to the issues in education, college accessibility, and the crowded workforce.

Have a great day!

Jamie Smith is Operations Leader at The Matthew Poore Leadership Group, Inc. in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. She commented on LinkedIn about my previous post Does Gen Y Have an Attitude Problem, and generously shares her insights here.

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