“Jabez is absolutely one of most engaging, energetic and effective speakers I’ve seen. He keeps the topic relevant and monitors his audience to maintain enthusiasm and connection. I highly recommend Jabez as a public speaker for your company or organization.” Darcey Howard, Life Styled New York, NY
What is The Social Network Generation?
Often during presentations to leaders of organization’s and companies I get asked one simple question “How do I manage and communicate to this new generation of employees?” First let’s define this group of employees that I call the Social Network Generation.
Gen Y employees, also referred to as Millennial, are the generation born from 1977–1995. I am myself a Gen Y. We make up the largest population to enter the work force ever. In the United States we total almost 80 million employees. I call us the social network generation because we built and communicate via social networking sites. As with every generation before us, we come with our own unique characteristics and skills. Learning to harness these skills and manage these unique character traits is crucial to any company’s success in today’s competitive high-tech world.
Let’s look at some of the characteristics of Gen Y employees from my eyes as one their own…
1 – My generation is commonly seen as entitled: To be honest this is a little off base. The real issue is that I believe I am capable of anything you are. I am accustom to instant answers (Google), and I was raised with the idea that my opinion matters and impacts the results of situations surrounding me. It is not that I am entitled, I just feel like I can accomplish anything.
My parents always asked me what I thought and let me have input in every decision from dinner to buying a house. Since my parents wanted me to know I could achieve anything, even become president, I grew up believing I was capable of running the world. For me this directly translated into a need to express my opinion in meetings, have an impact on the company’s direction & success, and the need to be a part of the process.
2 – We received a trophy for everything, even just showing up to play: Some people imply that since we received a trophy for everything we are soft, need constant affirmation, and don’t understand loosing…life is full of obstacles and failures, every day, and in most of the situations you are in you are seeing someone fall short, get stuck, or in need assistance. If you think that the trophy I received as sports recognition, debate club, or for playing the xylophone in grade school, suddenly trumps the daily struggles of life – you give too much credit to those little plastic figurines.
There are some lasting impacts from receiving a trophy for showing up. I feel the need to be given credit for showing up on time, getting my projects completed on time, and generally doing a good job. This should not be confused with monetary praise. More often then not, a simple good job or an email is sufficient. Just let me know I am succeeding in your eyes, and yes showing up on-time and doing my job is succeeding…going above and beyond is a success.
3 – When we went through school we were constantly put into groups for projects:We thrive on team interaction and working together to complete projects. Our loyalty to the other people on the team is the motivation to excel, not the prize at the end. As a result the team motivates the person, the trophy lets you know you are all in this together to win. I am likely to make employment decisions based on friendships. If my friend and/or team member leaves a company or department, I might think about leaving as well.
The great thing about always being put onto teams growing up, I work really well in collaborative environments. This is not to imply that I work poorly alone, just that I am equally comfortable in groups and as a team member.
4 – Technology has been a part of my entire life: I grew up with computers in the classroom, the emergence of social networks, and have developed an adept ability to grow with technology. I am also really quick at applying technology to improve my work process and create new opportunities.
In the work place I may be able to solve problems and improve processes with technology that you may not even be informed is available yet. It is not to say that I or any Gen Y is better at technology, just more comfortable using new technology and adapting it to everyday life almost as if it has always existed.
There are advantages to every generation’s characteristics, learning how to leverage these attributes is key to your organizations future success. Gen Y employees are the largest segment to enter your work environment and the most challenging. If you are going to be successful with the retiring of your senior management, you have to understand your Gen Y employees and how to best leverage their skills. This is the social network generation.