AED Foundation - News Articles
Managing and Motivating The Younger Employee
By Christine Corelli
Webinar: Hiring and Retaining Quality Employees
June 7, 2012
10-11:30 a.m. CDT
Managing and motivating the younger employee can be one of the most challenging situations a manager faces. How in the world do you get optimal performance from someone in the "younger generation" who has high expectations and may not even seem to want to be motivated?
Many managers think it's impossible to bridge the gap. Others, however, have successfully obtained high performance and loyalty from "Gen Y." These managers realize that the idea that young people cannot be motivated and do not want to be strong contributors to an organization is just a myth.
Don't get caught in the same trap. You have the potential to hire younger workers and turn them into superior employees. Assuming that you've hired someone with a good attitude, you can rely on these young workers to rise to the occasion. They are technically savvy, energetic, and can be challenged to be top performers. Here's what they wish they could tell their managers:
The Voice of the Younger Generation
"I want an interesting and challenging job."
This generation has a short attention span. If you want to retain your younger workers, give them more than a "job." Give them problems to solve, challenging situations, and a stimulating environment. They are attracted to, and will likely stay in environments where they are continually stimulated.
If their job role is repetitious, they will get bored easily and feel less productive. In addition to current job responsibilities, give them assignments that will make them feel their feedback is vital to the organization. Assign them to a task force or put them on a project.
"I want to work for a company with a great future."
Many young employees do not know the "vision" of their top executive – most likely because it is not clearly and frequently expressed. A younger employee will not be satisfied to stay with an organization that doesn't communicate leadership direction. Communicate your company's direction with clarity and consistency. Ask your younger workers how they interpret that direction. If you are a construction contractor or construction equipment company/ manufacturer that has been challenged by the economy, share your strategy to create and sustain success.
"I want to work for a company that is well managed."
Younger employees may not have experience, but they do recognize the importance of management's performance. They become discouraged when their leaders are not performing well and are not taking action where needed. Perhaps the sales reps aren't getting the help they need, the parts department is a mess or service reps aren't taking customer service excellence seriously. If the management of your company cannot effectively lead, nothing else matters to the younger generation. They will become frustrated. Worse, they will become demotivated and leave as soon as they get another opportunity.
"I want to work for a company that has strong values."
The younger generation wants to work with company that espouses values in sync with their own. While the work and pay are important to younger workers, never underestimate the importance of values. Your core values should include honesty, integrity, teamwork, respect, customer focus, accountability, excellence, continuous improvement, health and safety, family, commitment, and environmental stewardship. The latter is important to them because they grew up learning about the importance of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in school. An overwhelming majority of young workers have expressed this in numerous surveys. They will lose respect for a company that doesn't take sustainability seriously.
"When you hire me, I want to prove myself, but I don't necessarily want to work as hard as you do at first. You will need to give me a reason to be motivated – and that reason would be You."
Unless they have an MBA, most young employees have not internalized the importance of customer service or making a profit. To motivate them, you need make them want to be motivated and perform well. They must want to follow your lead.
"I want a great boss who plays down authority, mentors me, recognizes my talents, and believes in me."
Just because you are "the boss" doesn't mean you automatically have the respect of the younger generation. You have to earn it. You earn it by building trust and by playing down authority. Take personal interest in them, mentor them, and display honesty, integrity, and fairness. Continually exhibit every aspect of dynamic leadership. Once a young worker trusts and respects you, he or she will perform for you even if the job is not their dream job.
As busy as you are, find the time to ask your young employees what they enjoy doing in their spare time and what hobbies they have. Ask where they see themselves in the future. Ask if they have personal and professional goals. Show an interest!
Once you are confident of the competency and quality of their work, tell them you have every confidence in them and that you trust them. (Doing so is a very strong motivator.) Then, let them run with the ball. Don't micromanage. Giving young people the responsibility and authority to accomplish results is one of the most effective ways to obtain the most from them.
"I want to be supported by my boss."
Numerous studies have proven that young employees want to feel supported by their boss. When a customer walked into the facility of an ag equipment dealer a young sales person greeted him and offered his help. The customer's body language revealed that he was "looking down" at the young sales person. The customer said, "I want to speak to the owner," and walked right past him. The owner took care of the customer. The young salesman was embarrassed, felt inferior, and was frustrated. He quickly searched for and eventually found a job with a competitor. The owner should have told the customer that the young salesperson knew the equipment and applications better than anyone else and influenced the customer to work with him. If he supported his young employee, he would still have a valuable salesman on staff.
"I want to understand how my boss thinks."
The days of "do what I tell you to do and if you don't like it, don't let the door hit you on the way out " are over forever. When interacting with younger employees, take a few minutes to explain your rationale on how you think and why you do things the way you do. Just three short minutes of explanation can make a young employee feel special and can provide invaluable insight into your organization." By explaining what you stand for, you create a better working environment. No one wants to wonder what you're thinking.
"I want to be accepted and treated exactly the same as every other employee, even if I don't have the same amount of experience."
Treat young employees the same as your seasoned employees. If you don't, they will pick up on it immediately. Remind your seasoned employees that younger employees must be treated with the same importance and respect as others and explain why diversity in age groups is beneficial to every team.
"I want to have a voice in the decision-making."
Young workers enjoy working for organizations and departments that have a high level of employee involvement. They want to participate in idea-sharing and problem-solving sessions. Their ideas are often fresh and new. Include young employees in these sessions or place them on task forces to help in this area. Ask for their opinions on a frequent basis. Give them a say in how work their work gets done.
"I'd rather go home on time to be with friends and family because I value life-balance more than you do."
Young employees look upon their job as "what they do between weekends." They value life-balance. If they have to work longer hours, they become unhappy unless paid or rewarded.
"I want to flex hours and the ability to work from home if possible."
Construction equipment dealers have difficulty in this area, but if you can give office employees flex hours, by all means do so. More and more businesses are accommodating young employees with children. If they ask to work from home and it fits with their job function, do so but give it a trial period first.
"I want great technology and social media access."
Studies have proven that young employees prefer communication via technology. If you want your younger worker to be able to relate to you and you still don't know how to send a text message, now would be a good time to learn. Young people grew up with technology and social media. They love their modern devices and social networks. They are constantly connected to information and communicating with peers. Their brains are programmed to absorb and process information from many sources quickly. The good news is that their ease in learning new technology can help others in your company learn how to use it. Ask them for their help.
"I want training."
Training young employees demonstrates that they are important to you. Smart managers set up regular teaching sessions for them on different parts of the business. For example, one service manager showed his technicians the amount of revenue the service department made at the end of the month. Then, he showed them the amount of profit that came from it. They were shocked when they saw the figures, but walked away with a better understanding if what it takes to make a profit.
Some companies set up workshops to expose younger employees to different aspects of the business. If you recognize leadership ability, tell the employee that you recognize them as a future leader in your company and train them on how to demonstrate leadership. Remind them that they don't need a title to be a leader.
"I want to be appreciated for my work."
As Dale Carnegie said, "All human beings have two invisible signs. One says, "Make me feel important." The other says, "Appreciate me." Younger people want and need approval; they also want to feel a sense of accomplishment. Tell younger workers that you have observed their hard work and how much you appreciate it. One young employee stated, "I have worked here for one year and not once has my boss said "thank you." No manager can expect high performance from any employee without praise and appreciation.
"I like informal environments and may not have the understanding of professionalism as you do."
Explain how to answer the phone, what to wear, and what not to wear when you hire young people. Ask them to define professionalism and help them to understand what it is. Help them to understand it is coming in on time, helping others, respecting company property, refraining from gossip and negativity and recognizing they should think and act as "ambassadors" of your company.
"I want to work at a place where I look forward to going to work each day, and maybe even have some fun."
Fun in the workplace. What a novel idea! Most people think that we need to take our work seriously. Of course we do, but that doesn't mean that we can't have a little fun along the way. Learn to make work as fun as possible. Sales contests and games work very well with the younger generation. Have friendly competitions between teams for predetermined goals. Friendship at work is important to them, too. Form clubs that include a "Rising Leaders Club" for every young employee who wants to join for after work social activities.
Managing and motivating the Younger Generation involves a great deal more. For now, imagine you are in your 20s, and ask yourself this question:
Would you work for you?
Need help in this area? Then Christine's newest webinar is something you need to attend.
Webinar: Hiring and Retaining Quality Employees
June 7, 2012
10-11:30 a.m. CDT
Christine will also be presenting a webinar on October 11, Managing and Motivating Your Employees In Today's New Reality; also 10 to 11:30 a.m. CDT.
Register for any of these webinars at http://www.aedu.org/seminars-view.aspx. For more information, contact Pat Novak at email@example.com, 630-468-5135.
©Copyright 2012 - Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc. (www.christinespeaks.com)
Christine is the author of five business books including the best selling "Wake Up and Smell the Competition." Her newest book "Capture Your Competitors' Customers and KEEP Them," has just been released. She is an in-demand conference speaker and workshop facilitator to equipment manufacturer and dealer organizations.
Article Date: 05-02-2012
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