January 24, 2022

Keeping Generation Y Engaged At Work

Many organizations and businesses are asking how they need to change in order to attract and then retain Generation Y. When I answer this question, many people don’t seem to like my answer, because my answer is this: If you want to attract young talent into your organization, you will be called to not just change but undergo a metamorphosis that will keep Gen Y interested and excited about working for and with your company. And, if you try to sit on them, keep them or make life difficult, they will leave in a heartbeat.

I am not a futurist, and many futurists will tell you that it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the formula for the future workplace, because as technology and our global business landscape change, so will the way our organizations work and the way we go about attracting young talent. However, I do have a few ideas on the topic (based on my conversations with Gen Y and companies who seem to be “getting it right”. Over the next week, I will be sharing a few of those ideas with you through a challenge/solution format:


Solution: Redesign the organization to put the focus on the the knowledge worker as your number one growth asset.

The future will belong to the companies who embrace knowledge as the number one asset for growth. There is no generation better to fill the role of the knowledge worker than Generation Y. This Generation was born with a cell phone and laptop in their cribs. They have had instant access to massive amounts of information at the touch of a button for the last 15-20 years of their lives. Companies that thrive in the future will be looking at not only who has the most knowledge but creative methods to capture and leverage tacit knowledge. I believe that the Chief Knowledge Officer is going to be one of the most important roles for the future workplace. The CKO will be the leader who can provide companies with an honest, unbiased view about the world and where their company stands in relationship to its competitors.

I spoke to a young woman last week who said she felt as if her job was not challenging her enough, keeping her interested enough. She knows she can be doing more and giving more to her job…if only her boss could provide her with the challenge and developmental opportunities she has been craving. I hear this constantly. Many people believe that this is just more of Gen Y trying to “get what they want”, but I have to ask you “Isn’t this what we all want?” Don’t we all want to feel that we are learning more, being challenged more and being offered an inspiring environment to work and live in?

If you are reading this blog today, I want to ask you to sit down with your Gen Y careerists and ask them what you can do to help them grow, develop and feel as if they are learning more because you have provided an inspiring environment to do it in.

Millennial Leaders .

The Blaming Organization

I was talking with a young woman yesterday who recently left a company after she was written up for “walking too fast”. She told me this, and I thought I had heard her incorrectly. I said “Can you say that again?” She then said “I just left XYZ Company, and a part of their culture is to walk slowly to reduce stress, and I was reprimanded for walking quickly”.

She then proceeded to tell me that she was hired to do a job for which she was highly skilled and then was actually assigned another job (70% of her day) and that the job she was assigned was one of her biggest weaknesses. She was given high marks on the 30% of her job for which she was highly skilled and low marks on the job that was her weakness (duh?). And, supposedly she told them upfront that this particular skill was not her job and, the company did they tell her that “walking slowly” was a part of the culture (this woman is very fast moving and highly energetic, and any person with a brain could see it a mile away).

Why is it that we continue to do this to people in our companies? I hear this constantly, yet many leaders don’t stop to consider the consequences of blindsiding people on the job. Leaders get employees quickly to fill a position, feed them a bunch of bull during the interview and then blame them when things go wrong! Come on! Stop it!

My question for today is “Are you leading in a blaming organization? Or are you working for one?”

If you are, some of the behaviors might include:

1) Shooting the messenger

2) Squelching employee’s opinions

3) Saying one thing and doing another

4) Passing the buck up or down when you encounter a mistake

5) Closed-mindedness to new ideas

6) Poor training (or you are providing training one time a year in a classroom thinking this will do the job)

I believe that we can change this blaming organization to an organization which thrives on responsibility, respect and support. We can all start by implementing these steps:

1) Deploying talent (putting people on the right job where they can thrive and succeed).

2) Shifting our language “he or she did it” to “I take full responsibility for this incident” (if you are a leader or a manager involved in an accident [notice I don’t use the word mistake], then you are ultimately responsible).

3) Listening and appreciating your employees’ opinions by saying “Thank-you for your idea. I will sleep on this.” Then, get back to them on your thoughts around their suggestion.

4) Under-promise and over-deliver. If you tell an employee they are being hired for a certain job, don’t give them another job or make promises you cannot keep.

5) When you get bad news, sit down, take a deep breath and stop talking! Just listen, take it in, step back and calmly thank the person for the news.

6) Start providing on the job training and coaching on a daily basis. The best way to stop the blame game is to train people well on each and every step of the process and then make yourself and them accountable to their success (yes…you are accountable for your followers’ success. If they don’t get it after great ongoing training and coaching, then it’s probably time for them to move on).

We encourage your comments on this subject..