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What Gen Y really wants

2 min read


Does anyone really know? Is the current crop of young workers really all that different from the generations that preceded them? Some business strategists, notably Don Tapscott, say they are and warn that managers ignore these broad cultural shifts at their peril. Others, like Bruce Tulgan, are fearful that we’re coddling the youngsters.

But these lines aren’t so clean, and they ignore the more meaningful differences that come from in individual temperament and socioeconomic background. (Whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert would influence my management tactics more than their age, for example.)

Much of this wild and crazy stuff that Gen Y supposedly wants strikes me as simply good management of inexperienced workers. Of course they need feedback — they’re new at this. How else will they learn to do their jobs well if you don’t provide guidance?

If you don’t pay attention to what your new workers need, they will wash out at insanely high rates, wasting far more money and time than you would have spent simply meeting with them regularly to track their progress.

You don’t need new-fangled software like Rypple to do this effectively. My favorite method of delivering feedback starts with pouring a cup of coffee or a beer. (I learned it from my grandmother, by the way. She totally deserves a trophy.)

Tulgan has a point about not overusing praise (and I agree with him, even in my philosophy about how I’m raising my own kid), but praise isn’t the same thing as feedback. And feedback isn’t the same as coddling. It’s about making your own expectations clear and managing theirs.

I detect more than a whiff of contempt toward young adults in Tulgan’s arguments. Older people grumbling about “kids today”? Jeez, at least we know one group of people hasn’t changed much.

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