How do I manage my Gen Ys effectively?

I’m taking on my first members of staff, both of whom are considerably younger than me. I have no dealings with Gen Y in my regular life and come from a bit of a crusty corporate culture. What can I do to ensure that I relate to them as people as well as making sure they do what they’re instructed to do?


One Gen Y recently quipped to me “bosses who try and schmooze or become your ‘mate’ are in dangerous territory.  ‘Gen Ys still need an authority figure and someone to lead, a reference point and mentor.”


First and foremost these young folks are human. Irrespective of their age or apparent inexperience they will require an understanding of:

  • What it is you are wanting to achieve (direction/vision).
  • What is their role in that plan (role clarity).
  • How are they going (communication).
  • What can they bring to the table that you need (diversity of skills).

It will help to be clear but it will also help if you are a little more “ask assertive” than your crusty corporate culture might normally be.


Gen Y will really respond to being engaged. Barking orders and expecting immediate respect will be a big turn off. Respect from Gen Y is earned not automatic.


One of the most challenging differences will be the concept of flexibility and time spent at the office. Gen Y will prefer to get in, do a job and then expect some flexibility with time. If you expect nine to five rigour, then hold on to your hat.


If you can let go your own paradigm and allow a greater focus on results, not clock watching, then you will be repaid many times over.


If there is one fatal flaw in managing Gen Ys it is being inconsistent or inequitable. Please think about how you are “seen to be”.


If Gen Y sniff that there are double standards or that there are two sets of rules you may well have lost them. Gen Y are often bright, articulate, great communicators and can smell BS from 50 kilometres!


Do not underestimate how quickly they can communicate with each other and how reputations can be forged or lost instantly.


Recently in my kitchen five young Gen Ys were discussing some newsworthy story. One of them was disbelieving. So, to verify the story they instantly accessed a YouTube report and watched an excerpt.


The story was verified and the doubting Thomas was convinced. This took less than a minute. That is their timeframe.


So Crusty, you can expect to be required to lead, to manage, to communicate and to be consistent. Irrespective of the generation of your employees, these are all attributes of a great manager.


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