Connection to Experts - Eric Chester
Eric Chester (pictured) is the founder and president of Generation Why, Inc., a training and consulting firm offering insights into managing today’s generation. He has been the keynote speaker for more than 300 major business conferences and conventions, and is the author of Getting Them to Give a Damn: How to Get Y our Front Line to Care about Your Bottom Line. To learn more, visit www.GenWhy.com.
Renowned EO speaker and management expert Eric Chester provides invaluable insights into how to effectively manage “Generation Y ” employees, those born in the 1980s and 1990s.
I come froma different business generation. What are some key things I need to know about Generation Y employees?
“Generation Y employees, or ‘Gen Yers,’ have grown up in a radically different world and have a different set of values and beliefs, so you can’t think of them as carbon copies of you when you were their age. Don’t try to manage and motivate them with the techniques and strategies your early managers used on you; they won’t work. Instead, reach out and get to know them as people. You don’t have to be their ‘buddy,’ but it is important to try to build a relationship with them that extends beyond the boundaries of work.”
How do Gen Yers like to be managed, and what should I avoid doing?
“They need very clear direction and guidance, but they also like to feel as though they are not being micromanaged. Give them plenty of room to breathe and make decisions. They are also feedback junkies, and aren’t going to wait for a 90-day performance review to find out how they are doing. Take some one-on-one time each week to find out how they think they’re doing and to let them know how to improve. Also, realize how much they value flexible scheduling. They might need to be off on Thursday at noon for a rafting trip, but they’ll work on the project until 2 a.m. Sunday morning.”
What are some common misconceptions about Gen Yers?
“The biggest misconception is that they have no fear of new technology, but that doesn’t mean they are all techno geeks who know everything about computers and gadgets. Don’t assume they’re 100 percent up to speed with your technology. Also, don’t believe that they’re inherently lazy. They want to please you and exceed your expectations, so be clear about your goals going in.” I understand and connect with my Generation Y staff, but I’m afraid my clients won’t.
How can I ensure my Gen Yers interact effectively with them?
“Explain to your Gen Yers exactly how you want your clients and customers interacted with, and why this is important to you and your business. Model this behavior each time you interact with a customer or client, as Gen Yers learn best from example. Also, make customer service something you frequently discuss with your staff, and ask them to describe their own best and worst experiences with customers during the past week. Then invite them to share examples of how they’ve gone to the wall for the customers they’ve served during that same period. Frequent discussions centered around customer service will keep the focus on building a service-rich culture that will perpetuate itself for future employees to follow.”
As an entrepreneur, I’m excited about my business 24 hours a day. How can I get my Gen Yers to feel the same way?
“The reason you’re excited is because you have ownership. To get your Gen Yers feeling the same way, they have to feel like they also have ownership and are tied in to the results of the business, and perhaps some of the decision making, as well. That requires you to look past traditional forms of hourly wages and salary compensation, and consider creative methods of profit sharing and bonus pools— even for part time or front-line employees. Resist the entrepreneurial desire to call all the shots and ‘pass nthe law down to the lowly ranks.’ Instead, invite them to contribute solutions to the problems you face, as well as new ideas for generating revenue.”
How can I get my Gen Yers to care
about my bottom line?
“Care about the customers and people you serve. Care about the impact your business makes in your community and in the world at large. And above all, care about your Gen Y employees and show them that you’re willing to help them learn, improve, grow and get what they want out of their lives. The results will astound you.”