Best Practices for Managing 'Gen Y'

QUESTION: What type of feedback does Gen Y need from their boss?

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Gen Y is a group that is creative, optimistic, relational and has a passion to change things for the better. But they also have grown up in a time where they received immediate rewards, and every child on the soccer team got a trophy not for accomplishment, but for just participating. This is making the workplace an interesting environment. Leaders need to learn what type of feedback they need. Here are three ideas:

No. 1: Offer Constructive Criticism.

This will be hard, they are not used to hearing anything "negative," but it will help them mature and excel. Leaders should be kind but firm when delivering these comments and offer to explain further if needed.

No. 2: Offer Positive Feedback.

Regardless of age, every employee needs "positive feedback," every leader should be looking for people doing things right. Encouragement is very important to people. Keep your eyes open to catch people doing a good job and then let them know, you can also send an email saying, "Great job!" It is important in the development of Gen Y, to teach the difference between accomplishment and participation.

No. 3: Offer Constant Feedback.

Gen Y lives in the fast-paced world of texting, Twitter and Facebook -- where they can post a message and receive communication back within minutes or even seconds.  Leaders should know that constant feedback is important. If they do not hear from you for a period of time, they may disengage, lose passion and even begin looking for other jobs. Constant communication helps develop trust with Gen Y.

QUESTION: Does Gen Y understand the difference between reward and recognition?

It takes time to teach a person the difference between recognition and reward. Doing good work once should be recognized, but not necessarily rewarded. Doing good work consistently over a period of time should be rewarded.

Gen Yers need to know they are valued and appreciated. Leaders should know that "practical recognition and rewards" are very valuable - like a verbal thank you, a gift card, an extra day off, or a little party with other co-workers. Make sure they know you see and appreciate them.

QUESTION: Does Gen Y appreciate opportunities for professional development?

One great thing I have been able to see through my speaking and writing is the large number of young adults who are excited, jump into classes, books and training because they have such a passion for professional development. But I have also seen a number of people who do not really care about learning or advancing, but are really just looking for a financial reward.

I train leaders to be very cautious and discerning in the hiring process with Gen Y. It's not always about the stereotype of an "age group," but it is always about finding someone with certain skills, self-discipline, a particular personality type and a passion for the job being offered.

Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Jeremy holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University. He is the author of four books, his latest is titled: Inspired People Produce Results (McGraw Hill 2013). Jeremy lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and two sons.

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