The Gen-Y Workforce and Leadership

Building a team that can thrive, even in this time of worldwide economic recession is a challenging task, to say the least. While several factors go into creating a successful team, communication is the foundation upon which every great team is built. Failure to communicate will undermine even the most qualified team, company, or organization.

Old School Leadership vs. Generation Y
You will find that currently there are two primary styles of leadership emerging. The majority of C-level executives are still from a time when company loyalty thrived and it was common for someone to stay with the same company for many years or even their entire career.

Although this may seem beneficial, it leads to one major issue, the failure to communicate. This is because employees were trained to follow without thinking, questioning, or improving upon their leaders’ ideas.

Today, the workplace is being flooded with people known as “generation Y” which essentially covers those in their 20s and 30s. A BPW Foundation’s Gen Y study published in April 2011 noted that by 2025, Gen Y will make up roughly 75% of the world’s workforce. With this many millennials making up the majority of the workforce by 2025 employers can’t afford not to take notice. The views of the younger generation revolve around personal loyalty, not organization loyalty.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does change workplace communications and leadership styles. For more information on this topic, see our free Leadership Skills eBooks.

Remember how we mentioned the older generation was often afraid to voice their opinion? This is no longer the case.  Speaking generally, the younger generation does not have this problem. If they have a better idea, they will share it. So embrace this behavior and use it to ensure that you have open and honest communication within your team.

Encouraging Forward Thinking
Either you can see it coming or you have already seen it happen, a clash between generations. So, if you are on either side of the fence, how do you make this unlikely pairing work together?

Let’s face it; if you are a senior manager and grew up in the old way of thinking, you believe you are right. Likewise, if you are a young gun, innovating business and driving change, you know your way is better.

This is a great thing for business, but only if you know how to and are willing to harness it.

Re-Training Senior Management
Unfortunately, many of the biggest brands worldwide are having issues with this very topic. Senior leaders are not used to be challenged or questioned, let alone being told they are just plain wrong. Several companies have to refresh and re-train senior leadership on how to lead. One of the primary areas this affects is how communication occurs.

If you are a senior manager, you must take the time to learn about these changes if you want to succeed. You have worked hard to gain your position, now you need to work hard to evolve with the times; failing to do so will suppress effective change.

How Do You Know If You’re Effectively Leading?
As a manger, you are tasked with leading change and spurring productivity. If refreshing the way you lead is needed to succeed, then go with it. Remember, as a leader, you are responsible for demonstrating how to improve work processes. What better way than by showing your team you are open to change.

After you have changed your way of thinking how do you know it is working? Simple, you measure. As you now know, communicating is crucial, so go ahead; ask your employees if they feel like effective communication is rewarded.

This could even be done with a blind survey, such as a 3600 Performance Evaluation, which will give you honest answers about yours and your team’s performance. Download our free 360 degree performance evaluation template.

If after you’ve performed this type of evaluation the overall feeling is still “no”, your leadership style may still need some work. You can look at our free Leadership Skills eBooks. If your workplace is dealing with these issues, you should bring it to the attention of your leaders and encourage them to be open for personal advancement as well.

Key Points

  • Generation Y refers to the specific generation born between the 1980’s to the early 1990’s.
  • Gen Y have been raised during a time period where they have constant access to computers, mobile phones and the internet.
  • As a generation they are attracted by companies who embrace technological advancements rapid change and a lack of heirarchy.
  • Many organizations have had to adapt and revise their hiring strategy, company infrastructure and overall business ethos in order to attract and retain the best talent within this generation.

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