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.” 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 some of what they wish they could tell their managers:
“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.
“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.
“I want to work for a company that is well managed.”
Younger employees who have just come out of school 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. 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 a 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.
“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 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 to make them want to be motivated and perform well.
“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.
“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 their work gets done.
“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 in the field, now would be a good time to learn. Young people grew up with technology and social media. Their ease in learning new technology can help others in your company learn how to use it.
“I want to be appreciated.”
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. 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 showing up on time, helping others, respecting company equipment and property, and thinking and acting as “ambassadors” of your contracting company.
“I want to work at a place or on a jobsite that I look forward to going to work each day, and maybe even have some fun.”
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. Hold BBQ’s on the jobsites. Contests and games work very well with the younger generation. Have friendly competitions between teams for predetermined goals.
Managing and motivating the younger generation involves a great deal more. For now, imagine you are in your twenties, and ask yourself this question: Would you work for you? ■
About The Author:
Christine Corelli is a columnist, consultant, and author. For more information, call 847.581.9968, or visit www.christinespeaks.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2014
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.