8 Ideas on How to Lead Generation Y Well in the Marketplace (Part 1)

For the last three months, recent college graduates have been hunting for work. They represent the most unemployed demographic in the American population. They are forced to make adjustments from campus life to the corporate world. For many, it’s a huge chasm.

In this blog and tomorrows, I’d like to share a handful of practical ideas I’ve seen work as employers make their own adjustments to the new job candidates they’re interviewing and perhaps hiring these days. I will share 4 today and 4 tomorrow. I sure hope they spark some ideas you can use as you lead the next generation. I’ll begin by introducing 2 candidates to you.

Brooke is 22-years-old. She got hired right out of college. She was one of the lucky ones. But water seeks its own level and her job only lasted ten months. She is now unemployed. She wasn’t laid off. She was let go. She wasn’t ready to make the transition from backpack-to-briefcase.

Giles is 24. He looked and waited for work seven months after his college graduation. Finally he got hired, but now questions whether he “settled” for a job that wasn’t right for him. During college he was the picture of confidence. Today, he’s the picture of confusion. He’s thinking about quitting.

I wish that these two young people were anomalies. But, alas, they are not. While I continue to teach leadership to high school and university students, and believe in their potential, I see a pattern following their graduation. It’s like a good college football player who never seems to be able to transition to the pros. I don’t think the answer is to stop hiring recent graduates. We hire them each year at Growing Leaders. I think the answer is acknowledging they’re a different breed, and must be led slightly differently as they enter the workforce if they are going to succeed.

Because our organization works with both schools and corporations, we have a vested interest in helping employers understand and lead the new generation of workers entering the marketplace. I want to see both employers and young employees win. Let me offer 8 ideas you might utilize the next time you find yourself leading a young adult on the job.

1. Create incentive for them. Share the “why” behind the assignments and tasks you give them. Remember, these young people have a strong filter inside their brains that enables them to multi-task and take in thousands of messages every day via technology. They learn on a “need to know” basis. Let them know why they need to know what you are sharing with them.

2. Micro-manage at first. They’re used to instant and constant feedback at home and school. Most of them grew up with praise, trophies and ribbons just for playing the game on Saturday. Don’t be afraid to watch them and give them your appraisal. Hold them accountable. Over communicate. Unlike Generation X who wanted to be left alone, they want to be watched and noticed.

3. Let them share ideas. They support what they help create. Give them ownership by letting them talk. They learn best by being allowed to “upload” their own thoughts, not just receive a download from their boss on what they need to know. They are used to “posting” their thoughts on blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. They want to “vote.” They want to express themselves.

4. Launch a mutual mentor initiative. Some companies call it “reverse mentoring,” but everyone learns and shares. Why not match your Baby Boomer employees with these new employees who’ve been on laptops since they were 4. Ask the Boomer to share their work experience. Ask the Generation Y team member to share their expertise in technology and social media.

I will share Part 2 on this topic tomorrow.


8 Ideas on How to Lead Generation Y Well in the Marketplace (Part 1)