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Tips for working with Gen Y

07 March 2011

If you're managing a small business or a department in a large organisation, chances are you'll be working with someone who is classified as Generation Y. There has been a lot of talk about Generation Y - who they are, what their mindset is like, what they want out of life - but there isn't much information available to help non-Generation Y'ers on how to create a harmonious working relationship with them.

The reality is Generation Y has only just got started in the workforce and managers need to do more to understand this generational group, as the impacts of Generation Y are beginning to take effect now.

Leading Change and Communications Specialist, Karen Williams, says to create a successful organisation for the next decade, managers need to be schooled up on how to formulate a win-win situation with Generation Y.

Ms Williams says the key is not to treat Generation Y any differently to any other staff but to develop a strong and effective culture which takes into consideration their different mindset and aspirations.

\"With the introduction of Generation Y to the workforce organisations for the first time faced the war for talent. Gen Y is asking all organisations to be prepared for change. They ask questions, they challenge and what's more Gen Y believe it is their right to be heard.\"

\"Managers cannot turn a blind eye to this significantly different cultural approach. You need to address it upfront and deal with it like you would any facet of your business strategy,\" said Ms Williams.

Ms Williams who created her own organisational change and communications consultancy Message Stix in 2004 says the war on talent is well and truly upon us, and if staff are not happy they will vote with their feet and be out the door to their next company of choice.

\"This situation is common to many organisations I am currently dealing with and there needs to be a sense of urgency on dealing with it. Staff turnover, particularly in professional services firms, is having a significant effect on customer relationships. Customers want staff continuity, not high turnover.\"

Ms Williams said companies need to identify what Gen Y are looking for and what determines an employer of choice.

\"They need to adapt their organisation to this changing paradigm shift. It's not all about putting ping pong tables and X-boxes in the staff kitchen - however it is about identifying what cultural changes need to take place to attract and retain a young, dynamic, fresh and, above all, committed workforce.\"

\"Staying in touch with your staff needs to become a regular management tool,\" she said.

\"Coupled with this consultation, there needs to be effective communication of what you have learned and what you are planning on doing - i.e. communicate your strategy. The communication is critical to achieve buy in from your staff, especially your Gen Y, who particularly want to be included,\" said Ms Williams.

\"Empowering your staff and enabling them to produce short term wins is what Gen Y are looking for,\" she said.

Ms Williams said that managing people, now more than ever, is the number one thing in a business that requires constant attention.

\"Ram Charan once said, People first. Strategy second.\"

\"If you want to ensure your organisation is successful you need to lead the change for your people and manage it, not sit back and let it pass you by.\"

Ms Williams said Gen Y can add a brilliant and dynamic dimension to your business but your challenge, as a manager, is to embrace that enthusiasm and keep up with it.

\"Let your staff know that you value their contribution and can recognise how it adds value to your overall organisational culture and achievements.\"

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