Do I use a carrot or a stick on my Gen-Ys?

Dear Aunty B


I know the issue of keeping Gen-Yers on track is not a new one, but I could really do with some assistance here…


Myself and two partners are starting an online service focusing on the building industry. We are two lawyers and a project manager. The company also has three Gen-Yers who are working as the IT developers. I am the only one of us working full time on this project, which has to date been going on for 18 months. We have a massive amount of material to address.


Now with full appreciation that I am the company’s only (unpaid) full time staff member, and that the rest of team are holding down external full time jobs, I just do not seem to be able to get any sort of firm commitment regarding timelines from the developers.

At a meeting last night I pointed out a particular date next year that happens to coincide with some pretty relevant grants and other award programs that I would like us to apply for. This date was not plucked out of the air and had been tentatively agreed to earlier by the leader of the development team. However this, in my eyes, was walked back from a deadline to a “goal”.

Given that “payment” to date is by way of equity in the company and that there are no actual employees, cracking the whip is not really a mechanism of choice.


Do you have any tips on how to either be a better manager in these situations or how to get the boot out politely and kick some Gen-Y butt into line? Don’t get me wrong, these guys are far from being slackers – just on a timeline that at this time has no immediate end in sight.


Many thanks.


Steve C,




Dear Steve,

The whole project strikes me as unsustainable. Gen-Ys won’t stay two minutes in top organisations being paid a fortune. So why would they be busting a gut to work part time for you with a bit of promise of blue sky at the end?


Steve, this project has been going on for 18 months! You now know if this project is truly competitive in the global market. If it has a chance of success, you must fund this properly, bring people in full time and have a really good go at it. At this rate you will miss the market.


So don’t worry about your Gen-Ys. Restructure the business now. Find a backer with bucks, networks and lots of experience in your industry. Hire the developers full time and go for it. If the developers are offered a bit of equity in exchange for a lower rate of pay, they’ll stay!

Whatever you do, hurry! The world is turning.



Your Aunty B




Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

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