The ‘Problem’ with Generation Y

Managing performance is possibly the most challenging of management activities.  In high IQ companies individuals are hired and promoted for their intellect and associated skills and consequently are usually well educated and have reasonable self confidence.  To manage the intelligent workforce, managers must deploy expert soft skills.  In these organisations team working is a core component of competitive advantage as they design and deliver complex services and products against global competition.  For these managers there is no top down process to hide behind.  They are appraising people they selected for their skills and expertise, whom they rely on and work beside every day.  It is made more complicated because ‘expert soft skills’ are not that common in managers who were themselves hired and promoted on their IQ. 

So far: so normal. 

What has changed is that the relative calm of the boom years has come to a sudden end, and with it the status quo.  Managers are now significantly challenged in navigating the market turmoil, often whilst restructuring (sometimes for survival).  Consequently they have a significantly increased workload and are naturally beset by their own insecurities.  Throw into the equation a Generation Y of younger managers and staff who lack experience of recession and who still carry forward their expectations of advancement.  The consequences can be explosive. 

The complaint is frequently that the new generation do not know how to behave at work.  Indeed this may be true (see below).  However, the root of the problem lies in the inability of managers to challenge and address inappropriate behaviours.  It is difficult for high performing, high intellect and currently very busy and stressed managers to take time away from the business to address their interpersonal skills.  In the current economic climate to do so may be seen as a declaration of incompetence, wasting time that is needed for the business and therefore career shortening.  The resultant turbulence is often ‘delegated’ to HR as HR ‘fix’ the emotional stuff, and yet of course HR do not lead the business.

The solution is to acknowledge that traditional courses are unlikely to appeal to time and performance stressed managers.  This is why we developed our Business Risk Challenge.  It is a powerful development activity – but doesn’t feel like it because it is great fun.  And it goes straight to the heart of those difficult interpersonal skills. 

Next Steps? :

Talk to us, in confidence and without obligation about building management competence and influencing skills especially in technical experts 


 Generation Y Tales from the Front Line‘

 Ø  A manager, attempting to keep his meetings productive, asked all participants to switch phones and laptops off .  He was contacted by HR and told that this requirement was counter to staff  ‘human rights’ after the Generation Y’ers complained to HR..  

Ø  Two undergraduates wrote to prospective employers suggesting that as they were such good friends they should be employed doing the same job, together.  One letter, two signatures. 

Ø  A graduate engineer denied a place on the company sponsored MBA programme, phoned the CEO to ask why, and express his disappointment.  The CEO, in his turn phoned HR to express his disappointment. 

Ø  A lack of critical thinking as young managers try to solve a problem with the same actions again and again , (according to the procedure manual), even when it is not working.

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