What are the 7 biggest mistakes that managers make when coaching Generation Y?
#1: Take the Bait. Believe in the monolithic, “they’re all alike” philosophy. Use biting humor and sarcasm to remind them that they have not “paid their dues,” and that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Explain these clichés to them, since you’re sure they know nothing about the “real world” and you are their guide.
#2: Disregard common ground. Behave as if you’re much older, wiser, and more experienced than they are. Be patronizing and excessively patient. Drone on about how things were different in “your day,” and how much easier (or harder) these twenty-somethings have it at work. Ignore and disparage their music, fashion, hairstyles and general taste as “young” and “immature,” if not by labeling, than by your actions and tone.
#3: Think about what they can’t do. Expect nothing creative, positive, or intelligent from them, unless they’re in the tech fields; then, expect miracles. Continue with your assumptions that these employees can’t possibly know more than you unless their knowledge is based on their extensive experience playing video games since they were toddlers. For tech projects, give them impossible-to-meet deadlines and then deride them when these deadlines are missed. For all other projects and tasks, micro-manage and undermine them in the guise of mentoring them.
#4: Believe your way is the only way. Continue to impose your workplace culture on them as a group and as individuals, regardless of anyone’s preferences, needs, and earned privileges. Do not allow them to bring culture-changing ideas to you and block their innovative ideas in every way. Expect and be repulsed by tattoos, comment snidely on or forbid them to display facial piercings, expect these employees to be disrespectful, unpunctual, lazy, and unprepared. In short, create the very reality you’re actually trying to avoid.
#5: Use seniority instead of respect. Remind them constantly of the “chain of command,” and impose strict sanctions when they step outside of this system. Never reward initiative-taking, ambition, or healthy competition. Penalize them constantly when they raise new ideas or concerns, labeling them the “squeaky wheel” and “the highest nail,” so you can justify pounding them down.
#6: Don’t change your mind. Do not get to know any of them as individuals. Continue to make assumptions, and generalizations. Confuse them with one another other, mixing up their names and backgrounds, calling them by someone else's name, attributing to them characteristics and work tasks that are not theirs, and frequently showing them you view them as interchangeable and expendable. These are the cheapest part of your workforce; keep reminding them of how many people want their jobs; they can be replaced in an instant.
#7: Avoid transparency. Keep blending praise with blame, credit with criticism, and gratitude with “yeah, but,” so they do not ever know exactly where they stand or what is expected. Do not be consistent with rewards or sanctions. Berate them when they can’t seem to “follow the rules” and don’t know how to “play the game.” This “keeps them on their toes.”
If you are savvy enough to do the exact opposite of these mistakes, your workplace will thrive, with its multi-generational workforce of unique individuals.
Oh, and by the way, take a trip down memory lane and remember what it was like to be young. Remember what your parents or grandparents would say about how you approached life and how you did things. You may have loved or hated their opinion but it was still an opinion from a different point of view. The mistakes above are mistakes because they take for granted the point of view of the younger generation.