The key to managing Gen Y

19.08.10 | Posted in General

I spoke with Tracey Fellows, Microsoft Australia managing director this week. We started talking about Gen Y’ers and she told me that her business had come up with some good solutions for managing them. Young kid not quite Gen Y

Tracey said that their original strategy was to just tell the Gen Y’ers to wait and be patient and know that things would eventually come to them (just as they had to her generation.) When that didn’t work (we all know Gen Y’ers don’t take to patience well) they changed tack and decided to involve them in the hairiest parts of the business where they had no idea what to do with a problem.

The strategy thrived. The Gen Y’ers felt flattered, engaged and as though they were making a massive contribution to the business (above and beyond their role.)

I had coffee with a Gen Y’er and ex-mentee of mine this week. This young lady is starting out in her banking career, and not completely fulfilled in her role, has sought other extra-curricular activities to provide stimulation. She volunteers at Business Chicks, is on a committee at work and is also involved in a young executives network.

Perhaps her employer should make attempts to engage her inside the business as well… She’s such a bright, determined and conscientious young lady and I can’t help but think her company is missing out by not fully extending her.


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  1. Stefanie

    What a great post! It’s so good to see people being creative in their tactics to managing Gen Y’s rather than just rolling their eyes at us. I’ve finally landed a role with a manager who is giving me access to all parts of our team in order to keep me challenged and motivated. I’ve never been happier.

  2. Melissa

    Couldn’t agree more. I’m 24 and work with a lot of Gen X and Baby Boomers. There is a strong culture of “wait your turn and do the not-so-fun stuff first and you will be rewarded with responsibility in the future”. That is what many of them had to do themselves. Without mental stimulation in the mean time and strong goals to strive for, my enthusiasm just drizzles out of my ear.

    I’ve always thought the less interesting work should be balanced with challenging opportunities to keep you learning and feeling like a valulable contributor – it’s one of the reasons that succession planning is so important.

    My ideal is having 70% of the time doing the stuff you’re trained for and demonstrating you can do it well, 30% training for the next level up in a role where your personal goals parrallel the overall goals of the organisation. It makes people love their jobs and in return you get the best out of them.

  3. Naomi

    The difficulty is when managers and leaders cannot ‘see’ the amazing young resources that they have right before their eyes. Hence it becomes leaderships responsibility to ensure that each person (particularly Gen Y) has a voice and is listened to.

    Our motto at RedBalloon – is ‘Do they know what they are there to do, did anyone notice and do they go home feeling like a winner.’

    That has been our trick to engagement.