The secrets to developing Generation Y in your workplace

Over the last few months, I have discussed Generation Y, their desires, their needs and how to keep them. Keeping them turns out to be part and parcel of developing them. 50% of Gen Y believe organisations can do more to develop their future leaders, and a quarter is positively “asking for a chance” to show their leadership skills. As I've said before, it is about helping them become short-term sensations and developing their skills.

Read more of Jenny's articles on Gen Y in the workplace.

Of course, training is helpful and part of this, but the biggest opportunity is with their managers and how they develop their team. If you have a manager who is brilliant with clients but is poorly managing their team, they are not fulfilling their remit. Clear expectations need to be set around management: this needs to define what great management is and reward people based on their management competency.
Another approach is thinking mentor not manager: The word manager can imply a command and control leadership style, which won't get the right results. Approaching the relationship with the mindset of a mentor communicates that you are committed, that you care and that you are active in wanting to help them to build their skills.
To be an effective “mentor” three conversations need to happen regularly:

Mentors have to be transparent about expectations by defining what constitutes a great performance and what is not up to standard. It also includes defining how people get promoted, and that it is not simply when you ask.

Netflix, for example, have three upfront conditions for promotion 1) the job has to be necessary. Someone might be fantastic in their current role, but they will not be promoted if the company doesn’t need that role 2) they must be over-performing in their current role and 3) they must incarnate Netflix’s culture and values.

41% of Gen Y want to be recognised for their work on a monthly basis, at least. They have been used to feedback and cannot be perform exceptionally without it. “You need to improve the relationship with the client” is a statement, it’s not helpful feedback. This is a trained skill which needs practice in order for managers to acquire it.

If you like giving praise you're setting yourself up for an increase in productivity. A Gallup survey of 4 million people found those who received recognition and praise increased their individual productivity and were more likely to remain with an organisation. Generation Y received praise from parents, teachers and friends: without it they will become disengaged.
You also need consider how to increase opportunities to collaborate and connect. Open channels of communication will dismantle hierarchy both internally and externally thus enabling Gen Y to play to their strengths. At 7 Stars Media, despite increasing in size, the entire agency still meets every Monday to talk. Mindvalley has two day “hack a thons” off site. On the first day they hack their department and on the second, they hack the business. This allows every person in the business to contribute their ideas. At the end the best hacks are implemented. Their employees are satisfied, get to show off their skills, and through collaboration learn how to improve those skills.
If your managers focus on the three conversations – expectation, feedback and praise - Gen Y will blossom in your business, without any thorny issues.

Jenny Williams is an experienced coach and trainer specialising in the marketing and creative industries. She's been a global campaign director for Nokia and has consulted for L’Oreal, Healthwatch, Cambridge University and Mindshire. Check out her website here and follow her on Twitter @jenfi.