Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Communicating with Gen Y, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- "I am goal oriented, technologically savvy, "cultured from experiences abroad, and I thrive on collaborative environments." This is how one of my former students identified himself as a young professional. His generation, known as Gen Y'ers, or Millennials, is made up of 18 to 35 year olds who bring a unique set of skills to the workplace. They also have certain communication expectations. Sociologist Morris Massey, known as one of the most influential generational experts of our times, researched each generation's life experiences in historical moments that impact values and beliefs.
Since you can find Dr. Massey's work all over the internet, I will share some of Generation Y's biggest communication needs in the workplace, just as my small focus group shared with me. Members of Generation Y thrive on directness, direction, and learning. Instead of me explaining what that sounds like, I asked a few Millennial staff members from our lynda.com team to quote the words of my recent graduates. Now, be mindful not to generalize all that I say to the entire generation.
Personalities and temperaments differ, causing your young professionals not to behave uniformly. Millennials need for people of other generations to get to know them as people first. If you take the time to create the connection, your base level of trust and understanding will be stronger, but again, isn't that the way that all working relationships function? Be direct, listen to these quotes from Millennials about what they want in the work place. - I appreciate candor, I want to hear when I'm doing something wrong, so I can fix it.
The only way I'll learn is if I know the mistakes I make and understand how to remedy them. - Give me direct feedback, tell me what I'm doing well, and tell me what I need to be doing better. I like when my colleague is very transparent with me. I want to know where they're coming from, and all the details behind it. - Be very direct about what you want from me, even if it's a text or a quick message. I'd prefer that over no communication at all, I like to stay constantly in touch even if it's short check-ins.
- Here's the historical perspective on directness as a recent graduate explained it to me, see, their generation grew up communicating via text in 10 words or less, in those 10 words, they learned to read proper information in tone, and learn to be concise and get to the point. This digital training translates through all communication channels for millennials. Being direct doesn't necessarily mean being shrewd, you can communicate something in a straightforward way, but do it with empathy, and care.
Remember, that the young members of Generation Y graduated from hands-on learning. They received feedback from professors, from classmates, and from recruiters. Many schools, like the business school where I teach, organize internships for students before they enter the workplace. You will not be the first person they're interacting with in a work setting. So, say that the young employee expressed frustration at a last staff meeting. If you say to her, "I see you have lots to say", and you seem passionate about it, she won't read through the lines.
Instead, being direct and specifically describing her behavior, will be more clear to her. So, you can say, "I appreciate your engaged reaction "but help me understand why you seem frustrated. "Can you try and give me some more examples "for what you mean?" Give clear direction, here are the Millennial quotes again. - I like meetings with clear goals and outcomes, if we understand where you want us to go, we'll do it. - Set expectations early for our roles, and our communication channels, and styles.
- I appreciate clear, results-based dialogue with a willingness to provide, and take, feedback. - This is not difficult to do if you know the direction you want your Generation Y employee to go. Remember, that you do not necessarily have to dissect all the details, but cover the main reasoning and the overall reach of the project. You might say, for example, "we're entering a new market "in South America, I'd like for you to present "a brief country analysis on both Brazil and Chile, "for our executive team at the next month's meeting.
"Keep it focused around our industry, "and maybe talk to purchasing about the three suppliers we "already have relationships with down there." As another recent graduate said to me, "in a generation, where we received a ribbon, or a prize, "just for participating, we need a baseline "for what to achieve in order to "perform better than the rest. "Expectations help us push our generation to perform better, "and not just settle for the participatory ribbon." What a great way to describe the need for clear, and aspirational direction.
Facilitate learning, here are a few more quotes from Millennials. - If a learning is digital, virtual, team based, and hands on, I'll be very happy. - My hope is to soak up as knowledge as possible to further my career, and in the process, help you do your job more efficiently. If there is something you think that I can do that will help the both of us, all you have to do is ask. - Companies that succeed in attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennial employees, are ones with leadership development programs, designed to cultivate the need to succeed.
You might not be working in such an environment, but if you approach your young employee with the attitude of helping them gain new skills and knowledge, you are likely to keep him, or her, engaged. What I find interesting, from talking with recent graduates, is the motivation that comes from learning. It's not just for further job advancement, but also for strengthening their brand. See, the more they know, the less replaceable they are. Well, the more they know, the more autonomous they will be and live one of the core values of work-life balance.
When Generation Y'ers can learn on their own schedule, and build their skills, the better they will perform, and the higher they will want to achieve. Generations have differences and gaps. If you want your workplace to operate in harmony, find the common language, a company-centric language among all generations. With your young ones take a coaching, and collaborative approach. It may take more time than you're willing to give, but it will pay off in the long run. Studies approximate that by 2025, 75% of the workplace will be dominated by Generation Y.
So, if you plan to be in the workplace until then, you should practice being direct, setting expectations, and embracing a learning philosophy, when it comes to Generation Y.
- Understanding introversion and extroversion
- Persuading people
- Negotiating your needs
- Making small talk
- Saying no
- And more…
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