We have it jotted down as a point of discussion in our leadership and management meetings with our business partners. We provide webinars to our front line managers on how to navigate through it. And as HR Professionals, we attend seminars dedicated to it, so that we ourselves can keep up with them. It’s called managing ‘Generation Y’ commonly referred to as (eyes rolling) the ‘Entitled Generation’.
How do you motivate and retain a generation of employees that literally have knowledge at the tip of their fingers? We are talking about a group of people who present themselves to truly believe that they are entitled because they actually feel that they know everything. And how can you blame them really? Of course they know everything! They have access to all information at the touch of their fingertips – just ask google Or Siri and she’ll tell you!
There is something to be said about a company that employs this generation. It means that the company is a progressive organization and is ready to change. The newest generations of working professionals are different than the rest. We know this already and so do they. They tell you all the time. But, here’s the thing, they are no longer just the front line staff. They are moving up, and quickly might I add! We have a large group of baby boomers in the process of working through their exit strategy as they enter their retirement years – and someone has to fill their big shoes, right? So – we gotta start developing them somehow. But first, we just need to be clever in figuring out how exactly to retain them first.
We’ve always been told that the future is in our hands and that we have control over our own destination – and for the purposes of alleviating confusion, let’s focus those words solely around career progression. Well our wonderful ‘Gen- Y’s’ have that opinion embedded into their mentality. They don’t need to remind themselves that the future is in their hands – because it physically is. Ask a 20 something year old if they have the newest Iphone/Ipad and they’ll look at you like your crazy for even assuming they were willing to settle for less!
What’s my point?
My point is that today, as HR Professionals, we have a very unique anomaly on our hands to deal with. We have policies, programs, and performance reviews that we and our predecessors spent years, literally years, creating in our organizations to suit and work with a generation that is actually going into retirement now. Gone are the days of waiting around for years for that one golden promotion, now – in even their interviews, these guys are asking you, quite confidentially, when they can expect to be promoted. (And we as the hiring managers are sitting on the other side of the desk interviewing them, thinking errr… maybe wait until we actually offer you the job first???). Gone are the days of feeling nervous that the CEO came down to see your location, because they were so far up the hierarchy – these days, it’s all about the flatter org chart.
Businesses are already changing to work with the new ‘Entitlement’ mentality. But, we aren’t really understanding that it isn’t going to just go away. It’s also not just a passing ‘fad’. This is an entire generation of human beings, people! They’re here to stay. And while we have made amendments to some of our ways of doing business to accommodate them– we have a really big problem on our hands.
As an employer and as an HR professional – you are the ones managing them, and interviewing them. But are you the ones retaining them? You are probably working with older policies, programs and performance reviews that were built in the years when the internet was not so readily available for humans to learn and develop as rapidly as they do these days. So, how can you guarantee that what you have implemented is actually working for your company, and your front line workers or newest managers, when you’re using forms and documents that appealed to a generation going into retirement? See my point?
Here is what you need to do to create something that aligns more appropriately with this ‘Entitlement Generation’. Give Feedback! Often might I add! These guys want it. Badly. They are not interested in waiting for their one year anniversary to get it either. They want to know what they can do to improve their skills… right now. And if you aren’t telling them – then they are going elsewhere to find that information.
So – introduce weekly meetings with your employees. Not just to sit down and discuss their performance – today’s generation of newest workers, are very ‘me’ centric. And we need to help them harness exactly what that means. So talk about ‘them’. And let ‘them’ get it all out to you just how great they think they are. But when you do this – set a timeframe for how long the meeting will run. And then – when they finish telling you how ‘great’ they are – look back at them, and tell them you can’t wait to see them create actionable items out of their amazing self that will help you see how ‘great’ they really are. Make them come up with their own goals and objectives based on the great ideas and perspectives they have – and then be that HR Leader or Manager and help them assign timelines associated with completion.
You accomplish a few things in this process:
- This will keep you up to speed on what their current pulse is with their work and personal lives.
- It will help them, to help you, to prepare for that ancient thing we use, called an Annual Performance Review.
- There won’t be any surprises since in your weekly meetings with them, they actioned items THEY thought of and committed to doing – given how great they are.
- When the time comes for those good ole ‘Annual Reviews’ all you really need to gather is the information associated with what was actioned and then achieved during these meetings.
- Congratulations – you’ve single handedly created a situation where your ‘Entitled’ Employee is finally an ‘Accountable’ one.
When we work with a new breed of workers – such as Generation Y – we have to be cognizant of the fact that some of our policies may no longer align well with what its core purpose was initially set out to achieve. And in the end – it is still all about getting workers to complete their tasks in the most effective and efficient way. What HAS changed is that we need to be aware that because the audience is different – the way we go about achieving this goal must also be changed. It is the only way we can and will be successful in today’s organizations.
Until Next Time
Crystal E. Rizzuto, BHRM, CHRP, CHRL