It is critically important for employers of Gen Yers to look beyond behavior and understand what is driving it. This generation has been taught to thrive on external motivation — after all, schools give rewards just for showing up. They have a genuine need for praise, tangible rewards, and feedback at every step. Unlike earlier generations, they must learn in adulthood rather than in childhood to develop internal motivation. Managers willing to help with this process will have more independent, self-reliant, and successful employees. In addition to understanding the expectations of their employees, supervisors must be careful to define their own expectations clearly. Gen Yers tend to show extreme sensitivity when confronted with constructive criticism or when perceiving failure because they have encountered it rarely in the past. They have been taught to expect instant reward and gratification.
To enable Gen Y employees to do their best work and grow towards leadership, employers should:
- Schedule brief chats with employees to find out what external motivations will be most effective for individuals and for teams.
- Engage the employees in self-monitoring when problem areas are discovered so they can see what they are doing and how it affects other people.
- Arrange an intergenerational mentoring program.
- Help employees recognize and harness their strengths.
- Reward high-quality performance with increased responsibility.
- Schedule quarterly rather than annual performance reviews.