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Millennials, Part 2: The Downside of Hiring Gen-Y |  January 20, 2016 (0 comments)


Miami, FL—I happen to be a supporter of Generation Y—also called Millennials—the youngest group of employees in our workplace and the future of our customer base. But some of the commonalities in this generation’s upbringing have a downside that can cause negative consequences in the work place.

In my last installment, I wrote about the positive aspects of hiring Millennials. This time I will address some of the characteristics and attitude of Gen-Y employees that aren’t welcome at work.

It’s all about me! Wonderful me! Gen-Y was raised by doting parents who created a world that was centered around their needs and wants. Transfer these self-centered individuals to the workplace and you’ll have employees who feel entitled and don’t really understand the idea of working with others. And thought I don’t like this, in a way you will have to re-raise these employees. The work place does need to teach lessons while taking advantage of their marvelous strengths.

I’m smart and I have the answer! Here’s a story: A Baby Boomer-age employee reported to her HR office that the Gen-Y employees on her team were committing age discrimination. After the HR manager intervened, the conclusion—which the employee agreed with—was that they were really having communication problems.

The older employee, who has been used to automatic respect and trust from people young enough to be her children and grandchildren, assumed her greater knowledge and experience would be respected and acted upon by the younger employees. Instead they challenged her opinions and wanted to do projects their own way. They had to learn to treat each other with mutual respect in the workplace.

Mutual respect is a must. The Gen-Y’s need to understand that they can’t reject an idea, no matter where it came from, without weighing its merits. While older employees need to be open to new ideas and to recognize that sometimes someone who hasn’t been doing something for a long time has a better perspective, Gen-Y needs to understand that automatically saying “that idea sucks!” is not an acceptable response or a polite exchange among co-workers.

Gen-Y has less respect for leaders than previous generations, and no loyalty to employers. Having grown up in an era where corporate layoffs are common—and perhaps seeing their parents go through one or more—makes this lack of loyalty easy to understand, but it is still tough to deal with when they’re working for you.

Gen-Y is hungry to learn, but the teaching must be respectful and targeted. Leaders must earn the respect that allows Gen-Y to learn things they don’t know, like how to lead people, plan strategically, manage change, and inspire followers. A workplace that is meeting Gen-Y’s needs must have respectful interaction, flexible schedules, deep listening, motivational and inspiring work, and new challenges to keep their skills growing. Having these elements will retain your Gen-Y employees.

Gen-Y has a really hard time recognizing authority, so leaders must earn their respect, which leads to my next downside: they won’t take critical feedback! They want praise, praise, and thank you’s—again, not hard to understand from the generation that got a trophy for showing up, but not always easy to deal with in the workplace.

Yes, it is difficult to critique Gen-Y employees’ work. Because they do not respond well to authority, leaders and managers must prove they are worth following or the Gen-Y’s you most want to keep will network their way right out of your organization. That being said, they still are hungry for feedback. They want to know how they are doing and they want to improve. The key is for the leader or manager to build their relationship first. Gen-Y employees are used to adult supervision from people whom they know love them and have their best interest at heart.

If your critical feedback is coming from their perceived best interest, Gen-Y employees are grateful for your feedback and suggestions. You can capitalize on their very real strengths, their resourcefulness, doing whatever it takes digitally, knowing the latest technology, and being fast learners.

Now do not think that I am painting a whole generation with one brush. For every Gen-Y that acts entitled, you will find ones who are thoughtful, caring people that are the first to volunteer, are faithful friends, and work hard to succeed.

Now I have shown you both sides of the coin: pros and cons. You have to make the final decision.  --Andie

Andie Weinman, president and CEO of Preferred Jewelers International / Continental Buying Group Inc., was born with the “Jewelry Gene” working in the jewelry industry since she was only ten years old. Her first job was as a cashier in the opening of a catalog showroom doing a fantastic job even at that tender age. Andie holds a B.A. in musical theatre and a B.S. in marine biology from The University of Tampa. When she realized that seawater and marine biology were not good on her hair and she wasn’t quite good enough to make it on Broadway, the jewelry business beckoned. Andie has picked diamonds, sorted color stones, shot waxes and performed a multitude of jobs in the manufacturing of jewelry.  Her negotiating experience and prowess has given her the reputation as being tough but fair in her dealings with vendors. In 2012 the Indian Diamond and Color Association awarded Andie the Prestigious Doyenne Award of the Year.

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