This is a guest post by Nikki Baulisch, a Generation Y employee.
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Refrain from talking to them face-to-face. If you need something, send an email or a text message. If you absolutely MUST talk to them, then first send them a text/email stating what you will talk about and ask them to call you (note: an even better option may be to ask them to Skype you). This will save you non-acknowledgment and frustration when they don’t give you the time of day.
If you have a question, and you have not “Googled” it, you will be met with confusion and consternation. They will wonder how you can hold a job, let alone function, without the common sense to “Google” first.
Generation Y has grown up with constant barrage of sound so be tolerant of their need to be plugged in. It is how some of them concentrate on their task at hand.
Constant praise is a MUST for Generation Y. Parents of the Gen Y crowd are guilty of constantly praising their children as they wanted them to have high self-esteem. It may have backfired a little, as most Gen Y’s are quite confident and self-assured – to the point of developing “large heads.” No use trying to deflate them, they are much too confident to assume there is anything wrong with them so it must be you.
Parental advice is about the only kind Generation Y will listen to. Instead of telling them they “should” do anything or do it “your way,” try an alternative approach of asking them their opinion on how they think something would best be completed. You will not only build a valuable report but also earn some of their respect in the process.
Patience may be a virtue, but not to Generation Y. They expect many things instantly due to the way technology has constantly given them instant gratification. They do not procrastinate at work as they were taught to get things done now so you can have fun later. Actually, this is a very positive trait of theirs and should be admired.
Generation Y expects everyone to think for themselves. They were given an education of “outside the box” thinking and expect everyone to be the same. If you can’t think outside the box then keep your box-like thinking to yourself.
Be aware that sarcastic remarks are part of their nature. They find it humorous and it is sometimes a hint that they find you either amusing or annoying. Works either way for them so be careful.
Be cautious to ask about their personal life. Generation Y has a strong distinction between work and personal life. They are the generation that has mastered the act of work-life integration and they expect you to do the same. Although they might spend their work time on Facebook or Twitter, don’t assume that they’re not brainstorming new ideas at night during their “off hours.” When asking specific questions about their personal life, do not be offended if they do not give you detailed accounts of what they did that weekend. They simply feel private business should be left at home and full attention to work be given when at the office. If you want to know anything about them, connect with them on Facebook.
Generation Y is extremely loyal to those they respect – whether that be a brand or a person. Respect can be earned many ways but one of the most popular ways amongst Generation Y is respect for a brand or person that focuses on making the world a better place. This generation doesn’t simply buy a product; they buy a personality. Earning their respect does require a great deal to prove yourself but once they respect you, then you have a friend for life.
Have you run across any of these characteristics in Gen Y co-workers or team members in your workplace? Do Nikki’s points help you understand them a bit better? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.