Managing Gen Y career expectations

For managers in virtually every industry, it’s no secret that the super-charged career expectations of Generation Y can raise some challenges to organisational harmony.
Highly ambitious and self-confident, this category of employee is renowned for their craving of rapid advancement, with many expecting to be occupying a management role sooner rather than later. More than that, it’s also expected that their work tasks will be both challenging and interesting, and compensated with an accordingly high salary.
For managers with a more traditional view of career progress, reconciling these characteristics while maintaining organisational objectives may require a more considered approach.

Opening lines of communication

When it comes to addressing this challenge, clear, honest and concise communication is critical. Without it, bridging the gulf in understanding between the two groups may be difficult. With both staff and managers needing to express their expectations and ambitions, organisations may consider working on establishing constructive dialogue and ensuring that both parties are willing and able to listen.

Not surprisingly, Gen Y’s desire to enjoy greater independence is also often at odds with the approach of traditional hands-on managers. Therefore, managers may need to find new ways of engaging, motivating and monitoring. While setting objectives and providing feedback will always remain crucial functions, managers could, for example, demonstrate greater trust in their subordinates by providing safe opportunities for early responsibility.

The manager as coach

Rather than persevering with the classic command-and-control style, organisations might also consider adopting a more coaching-orientated approach. With Gen Y staff harbouring a desire to be managed in a way that facilitates a degree of autonomy, workplace coaching may be an ideal way to both engage and motivate.

Of course, facilitating authentic coaching relationships will require many managers to change the way they think about their role. This is where organisations can step in, providing learning and development opportunities to help managers develop their coaching skills and create a culture that extends throughout the organisation.

Ultimately, organisations probably need to find ways of allowing talented and ambitious younger staff to fulfil their potential. Such an approach is vital for companies that hope to retain and benefit from this qualified and motivated group of individuals.


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