How To Motivate Gen Y Employees – Communicate the Guidelines


Gen Y, also known as Millennials, is used to getting clear, detailed direction for work that needs to be done. Those directions generally include information about what counts as “A” work – if you think in terms of grades. As Gen Y moves into the workforce, they desire that same structure, also called rubric. Having guidelines and discussing them with your Gen Y workers can go a long way toward successful and motivated employees.

When the structure isn’t there, an interesting irony about the Millennials tends to appear. It is their ability to do complex tasks even while they stumble over things that seem so basic to those of us who’ve been working for years. It’s as if somehow they didn’t connect the dots.

Here’s an example:

Megan, a Millennial, is new to real estate sales, and is working very closely with an experienced agent, Sally, who is providing mentoring. Sally called to check in as Megan was working some very strong leads. Sally’s been very impressed with Megan, who’s shown a lot of initiative, and shared some great ideas about marketing that they have been working on together. When Sally asked about Megan’s strongest lead, a 75 year old who wants to downsize to a condo, her reply was “I emailed her and she didn’t get back to me, so I texted her and I’m still waiting for a response.” Sally was completely baffled! When she pressed Megan about why she didn’t try another way to connect. Sally suggested that maybe this 75 year old was not so tech savvy, and didn’t regularly check email and may not even know how to retrieve texts from her cell phone. Megan shared that it hadn’t crossed her mind that this woman had not responded because she may not have received the messages!

This simple example illustrates the point this generation has very strong technical and data gathering skills, but they aren’t always able to bring their knowledge together in business situations.

That’s where the rubric methodology comes into play for managers and mentors alike. It is a guideline, a way to define what is expected, about HOW something needs to happen. The rubric matches the way much of Gen Y was educated and provides a clear structure and measurement system to determine whether “A quality,” “B quality,” or “C quality” work is produced.

Gen Y workers need to understand what is expected of them on the job in terms of work output, timeframes, participation and key deliverables. A rubric or workplace guideline conversation should include the following questions:

  • What is the job or task?
  • Why does the job or task need to be done?
  • How should the job or task be completed?
  • When does the job or task need to be completed?
  • What does an “A” job completion look like?

photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page via photopin cc

Diane Spiegel

Diane Spiegel is CEO of The End Result Partnerships and is one of the nation’s recognized leaders in corporate training and leadership development. With more than 25 years of experience, Diane is an industry leader and innovator who created the firm’s highly successful training methodology, Sage Leadership Tools. An organizational architect, Diane specializes in developing training plans that offer companies a strategic and creative process to educate and develop their employees, and provide the framework for cultural and organizational change. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and she completed post-graduate study in employee relations and organizational development at the University of California, Irvine. Diane is adjunct faculty at University California Irvine working with professional staff on the impact of the Multi-Generations in the workplace. Diane’s clients include Celebrity Cruises, Corinthian Colleges, Costco, Del Taco International, Southern California Edison, Jamba Juice, Legoland California, Taleo, Royal Caribbean International, Sunglass Hut/Watch Station, The Gap, The Limited, 3M, and Wet Seal.
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