Sunday, 14 December 2008

Generation wh-Y

An interesting article from HR daily. I can absolutely identify myself with it :)

Connect with Gen Y - improve thinking, not processes

15 December 2008 8:26am

Managers should focus on solutions rather than problems when communicating with Gen-Y employees, according to executive coach Gaynor Lowndes.

Lowndes, who is also a trainer and director of The Recruitment Training Company, points out that unlike previous generations, Gen-Y employees are largely "knowledge workers" who are paid for what they know and how they use it.

The people leading and managing them, she says, need to know how to improve thinking, rather than processes.

"Gen Y need leaders who will help them shine at work, and who help them fulfil their potential rather than the old paradigm of management. They want leaders who improve their thinking. Most current leaders have been trained to improve processes, not thinking, which is where the communication problems occur."

More powerful communication
It's widely accepted that Gen Y are "loyal to themselves, not their employers (like baby boomers) or even their careers (like Gen Xers)", Lowndes says.

"They don't respond to authoritative and dictatorial communication methods, which is how the rest of the workforce was brought up. To get the best from Gen Y, you need to challenge them to think for themselves."

To achieve this, and improve the performance of Gen Y workers, Lowndes says, managers should focus on solutions rather than problems when communicating.

For example, rather than asking a Gen Y worker, "Why didn't you hit your targets?" a manager should ask, "What do you need to do next time to hit your targets?" she says.

"This slight change in the way the question is asked will make a huge difference to the response that you receive and the performance that will follow after the discussion.

"The first question keeps you in the problem, the second question moves you toward a solution. Rather than 'Why did something happen?' (problem), ask, 'What do you want to achieve here?' (solution). Many problem-type questions start with the word 'why."

Focus on the positive
Gen-Y workers respond well to acknowledgment, Lowndes says, but most people receive only a couple of minutes of positive feedback each year, as opposed to many hours of negative feedback.

"Learn the skill of acknowledgement and you will be amazed at the quality of your communication. Not only acknowledge those around you but acknowledge yourself as well."

Listen without an agenda
People only listen a small proportion of the time, with the rest of their attention on "judging, assessing, trying to sound smart, listening to distractions, trying to work other people out, or being self conscious to the extent that they are only listening to themselves," Lowndes says.

Gen Y, however, respond well to people who "listen for potential". To do this, try not to have an agenda when communicating with them, she advises.

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