The Challenges of Managing and Training a Generation That Knows What It Wants

TALKING WITH A 20-SOMETHING EMPLOYEE, two different managers can get completely different messages from the same conversation.

Let’s say a young job applicant’s first question at the interview is “When will I get my first promotion?” Or a young employee expects lots of praise for taking the first step on a project and ongoing encouragement to complete it. And a third 20-something employee is altogether inexperienced but is certain it can be done better another way and is vocal about it.

This is what should be expected of young employees—the Gen Y or Millennial generation, usually defined as those born during the 1980s and into the 1990s.

One manager might see these behaviors as part of the new generation’s sense of entitlement. What else can you expect, the manager asks, when these kids grew up with helicopter parents who asked teachers to change a grade or argued with a coach for more playing time? Whose parents tried to protect them against all harm with “Baby on Board” stickers on the car and helmets for riding their tricycles?

But another manager, better cued on how to manage the new workforce, sees all this behavior as good news.

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