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Bringing Out the Best in Generation Y

Bringing Out the Best in Generation Y

They’re your high-maintenance, entitled, technologically sophisticated and fickle new talent pool. Generation Y, aka the Millennials, is also potentially the most high-performing generation in decades. Here’s the low-down on what makes them tick and how to work most effectively with them

Workplace Strengths and Weaknesses

The upbeat, civic-focused, self-centric Generation Y attitude is beginning to manifest itself in the workforce. As new recruits, the members exhibit a high degree of ambition and entitlement: They expect and demand career track positioning, time to pursue volunteer interests, attentive management from supervisors, and regular, appreciative acknowledgement even when their work doesn't merit it. Because they've been overpraised and protected from feeling unsuccessful, Millennials often struggle with processing failure and criticism. This group frequently lacks the ability to internalize the lessons they need to learn while staying engaged in the work at hand.

The high degree of adult oversight and praise members of Generation Y received as children has left them reliant upon external direction and regular appreciation from authority figures, such as parents, teachers or supervisors. When confronted with unclear guidelines or minimal management, Millennials tend to flounder. They're unable to determine on their own the direction they need to take. They expect others with more authority to give it to them. Left to figure things out on their own, Millennials may resort to entertaining themselves until told otherwise or sticking to lesser tasks that lie within their comfort zones. As a result, Generation Y is struggling as it enters a workplace where employees are expected to hit the ground running with little oversight and to learn on the job.

Generation Y's strength is its technological sophistication. Digital communication is Generation Y's birthright. Members grew up in an on-demand world where access to information is immediate. Technology has been and remains an integral part of their daily lives, including their relationships. Thus, they possess the tools and savvy needed to work with the information systems running companies today and to address the challenges of working in virtual teams on complex problems. Raised to be team players, Millennials are well suited for collaborative work environments.

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