Generational Gyrations

Making It Work

Here are some quick tips for working with Gen Y employees:

  • Explain your sense of hierarchy. Make sure your Gen Y employees under-stand why a hierarchy exists, and be prepared to alter your thinking. Take time to explain what kind of dues-paying is required to get employees to where they want to be in the company, and listen. Offer concrete benchmarks for advancement, and acquaint Gen Yers with business risk when discussing pay raises.
  • Add responsibility. Because Gen-eration Y wants more responsibility sooner, try to offer continuing training and mentoring. Gen Yers are enthusiastic when they feel their opinions mean something. "Gen Xers can start providing the initiative with Generation Y," Strauss says.
  • Focus on similarities. Both groups share similarities, including a positive attitude toward free agency and basically the same desires (the only difference being the expected speed in realizing those desires). Carolyn A. Martin, a master trainer for Rain--maker-Thinking Inc.-a New Haven, Connecticut, firm that researches the working lives of Americans born after 1963-and co-author of Managing Generation Y (HRD Press), believes that Gen X leaders have their work cut out for them in managing younger generations. Says Martin, "The challenge for Gen X will be translating their experiences and thinking."

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the April 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Generational Gyrations.

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