How to unleash the potential of Generation-Y

Developing an understanding of how millennials or Gen Y-ers (people born between 1980 and 1995) are motivated or inspired has proven to be a very challenging exercise. They are the generation that was raised by overly doting parents who pandered to their every whim, coddled their self-esteem and praised their every action. They played in sports teams where keeping score was frowned upon, where everyone was a winner and each team member got a trophy for just showing up.

Having grown up in a very different era and erroneously trying to measure this new generation against my own perceptive background and values was most certainly not allowing me to see the real potential of these individuals. Every one of these Gen-Y-ers that I attempted to work with or train, seemed lazy, de-motivated, disengaged, undisciplined and could not stay focused on anything longer than 10 seconds.

I soon learned that Millennials are as driven and motivated to succeed as any other generation; they just do things very differently. The first time I observed what this generation is capable of doing was when I observed the actions of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN, founded and filled with only Gen-Yers. These people are by no means lazy, de-motivated, disengaged or undisciplined. This group of individuals have pulled off the most amazing things in a very short space of time. Led by a core group of three leaders, this group of mostly volunteer members of driven, passionate and hardworking individuals has achieved things that my generation would never have even attempted.

  • They have organised very successful marches in Washington and co-ordinated simultaneous overnight rallies and marches in over 100 cities worldwide.
  • They pulled a great stunt outside Oprah’s recording studio that got them to appear on Oprah three times.
  • They drafted a bill that they personally pushed through the senate and Congress, following the bill all the way until they met with the US president while he signed it.

Having observed what these millenials are capable of achieving has astounded me and shown me that it is not the Gen-Yers that are at fault. It is simply that this new generation has a vastly different way of doing things. They cannot be measured against a different generations standards and perceptive background. They are a unique new group and they do things completely differently. The challenge for any company wanting to utilise the skills offered by this generation is to understand how to mine their abilities and amazing talents.

This new generation is the largest generation to hit the workplace, since the baby boomers. The reality is that they are here to stay and are going to be the workforce available in the future. Learning how to mine the talents of this new generation is crucial for any organisation, if they are to thrive over the next 10 – 20 years. Companies that embrace this new generation and understand and connect with their values will give themselves a huge head start over their competition.

This generation is not like any previous generation, they are not the “hard-core individualists of the past” They see themselves as part of a community, as team players, yet they still want to be valued as individuals. They want to be part of groups or communities on Facebook etc. They may be connected with hundreds of friends on Facebook, yet they still want to be unique within the group and have a special one of a kind Facebook page. They all want to own I-Phones so that they can fit in and be part of the group, yet they want to have their own individual welcome screen, phone cover and ring tone.

Effective leadership within this new generation is about TEAM. They will not respond well to any talk around employees or staff. They want to be part of an internal culture that makes them feel part of something special and that they are a valued component of that group. This new generation wants to not only be valued for what they do as a career, but wants to stand out and be recognised for what they stand for and who they are. They will never respond if you try to drive them as task orientated employees. They work best when they are treated as valued team members, who can express themselves, show their individuality and allow their uniqueness to shine. They will rebel against any attempt to homogenise their efforts or where they are forced to conform to a strict regimen or schedule.

They have huge benefits over any previous generation; they have been brought up to believe that they are capable of achieving anything. They are driven to tackle the impossible, anything that has not been attempted before will drive them to new heights of excellence. They are driven by great causes, big challenges and outlandish visions about what is possible. They are the new generation that believes that anything is possible and they get excited by the prospects of becoming part of any new drive to do things differently or better. They will sacrifice greatly and give their all to be part of anything that seems impossible.

They want money and the comfort and choices it offers, but money is not a motivator or one of their primary objectives. Millenials see money as a means to an end; they view it as a necessity to fund their pleasures and lifestyle only. Money for this generation is a means and will never be the end in itself. This generation is far more driven to be part of something big or to be appreciated for what they do. Bonuses or incentives will be ineffective when used with this group.

They want to be recognised and their contributions to the team must be appreciated. Any leader wanting to get the most from this generation must recognise important life occasions, like birthdays, weddings, births etc. They are a generation that was praised at every level and told how great every occasion was. Using this strategy as a leader will endear this group to you and allow you to mine their incredible talents.

This generation has grown up in an era of fast moving video games and an endless supply of entertainment options. They are consummate multitaskers and do not tolerate any unnecessary time wasting  or waiting around. They do not understand the concept of loyalty and will only stay with any organisation, if it is meeting their needs. This generation is looking to satisfy their needs first and anything else is secondary to this.

Leading this generation and mining their talents is different to the way we are accustomed. They need to be reminded of things and their behaviour reinforced often. They are looking to be engaged, happy and fulfilled every day. If they feel that your business is not meeting their needs they will move onto greener pastures at the blink of an eye. This generation brings a number of challenges into the workplace , they however will be fantastic contributors if they are understood and properly directed.

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  • Quinton Fuzani /

    I’m a pastor, and passionate about motivational speaking. I’m starting my own motivational speaking business. And question is:Where can i get training in Pietermartzburg. For example…training on life coach and being a facilittor. And also who start a business of ths kind.

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