Millennials: entitled, lazy, unfocused, flighty, impatient, and on and on and on. You’ve probably heard these qualities attached to Generation Y and maybe you’ve used them to describe someone you know. But have you actually taken the time to decipher why they think and behave the way they do?
Dr. Karyn Gordon, a widely recognized expert for her work specializing with young people (specifically Gen Y and Z), was a keynote speaker at EcSell’s sales coaching summit last week and spoke on the topic of understanding, coaching and motivating Gen Y’s. (Three takeaways on how to lead and motivate them later on.)
What I appreciated most about Dr. Gordon’s presentation is that she educated the crowd, primarily sales leaders ranging from Gen X – Boomers, on “why” each generation gets stuck with the descriptors they do. For example, Baby Boomers (1946 -1964) are ambitious and competitive and think employees should pay their dues as they have done.
Why? Because of their traditionalist upbringing and the economic market they grew up with.
Or that Gen Xers (1965 -1977) are more likely to be skeptical, independent-minded and seek work, life balance.
Why? Their influencers shaped them to be independent and take care of themselves all while figuring out they didn’t want the work life of their parents.
Dr. Gordon’s “why” for the generational labels contributed to several of these factors:
If the economy was doing well or not.
The crises that happened during that time period.
The parenting style the individual grew up with.
Inventions introduced to society during that time.
I was fascinated. I thought I knew everything (because I’m a millennial) but I was missing the “why” and the history within so many of the generations. I was able to see life through the lens of others, which made a huge shift in how I will communicate with others not only in my professional life, but my personal one too.
As for Generation Y, just think of how the parenting, the economy and the technology affected who they are today and why they behave the way they do. Now let’s learn how to leverage their skills and experiences according to Dr. Gordon.
Here are 3 ways how you can understand, coach and motivate Gen Y’s:
- Communicate – Millennials like feedback. A lot of it, and often. Feedback needs to be soon, short and specific. A relationship must be formed and it must be ongoing. They do not respond well to traditional performance reviews either.
- Challenge – Millennials like training and mentoring and can soak everything in quickly, even if it’s intense. You are responsible for keeping them engaged and being vocal about their progress. Be aware if they become bored. Boredom = Disengaged
- Cultivate Culture – Create a “why-friendly” culture. Get your organization plugged into charities and opportunities to get to know everyone on the team or the people within the organization. Millennials seek a culture where they can feel like work is their second family.
Overall, it’s about being a progressive leader ready to manage, lead, coach and motivate in new ways while exercising Gen Y's power of influence. Once you do, sit back and watch. Greatness is in the making.
Want to better lead and motivate your Gen Y’s? Leverage these qualities:
They care, a lot.
They are tech wizards.
Sense of community is key.
They adapt quickly.
They are used to multi-tasking.
They like things to move quickly.
They want to do a good job.
They seek feedback, often.
They look for purpose in life.
They want to know they’re making a difference.
Want more ways to motivate your sales people? Download this complimentary white paper on the role managers play in sales team performance.
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