How to Manage Generation “Why”

leadership training stereotyping people at workThere’s a term called “GLOP” I learned in my leadership training class which is an acronym for “General Labeling Of People.” We were taught not to GLOP for the obvious reason that GLOPing is very similar to stereotyping, and stereotyping is too often based on ignorance and/or prejudices.

I’m not a GLOPPer, however, for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll need to GLOP to deliver my point.

So we have this new breed entering the workforce we call “Generation Y.” I actually call them Gen “Why” because it’s easy to remember and it resonates with people who can’t understand “why” this group acts and thinks the way they do. I’ve heard enough times that this is the generation of people who don’t know the meaning of responsibility or accountability. This is supposedly the generation of people who believe they are automatically entitled to pretty much whatever they want just because. This is also supposedly the generation of people who, as some managers will tell you “don’t want to work.” How’s that for GLOPing? I’ll slap my own hand later.

Yes, this is a generation of people who hang out in coffee shops Facebooking, Twittering, and texting at the dinner table. (Just like Mom and Dad? Maybe?) Yet, this generation is also quite savvy. Many are actually very ambitious, wanting to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, as they start up their own Internet businesses and freelance their services, shying away from getting nailed down to an 8-5’er somewhere in a cubicle farm with two weeks vacation. If you think about it, it’s quite impressive.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with this generation through networking groups and interviews. Sure, I’ve met a few that fit my GLOP, but I’ve also met others who have very clear goals, determined to achieve them, and fast. I admittedly understand how their beliefs and attitudes may clash with beliefs and attitudes of managers of previous generations who were raised on different sets of values.

So how do you manage people you can’t quite understand? Well, that’s the million-dollar question, and the answer is simple. The first step is to get to know who this generation really is and why they believe what they believe and think what they think. Consider this: each generation is brought up differently than the prior, and instead of becoming frustrated, become acquainted. The second step is to learn and practice strong management skills, which can be taught in a good leadership training program, such as L.E.T.

Skills such as Active Listening, problem solving, conflict resolution and many others are taught, and these skills work remarkably well across all generations.

Next time you have the opportunity to talk with someone from Gen Y, get to know who they are, listen well, and you may be very impressed and understand why.

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