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Strategies for Managing and Motivating the Gen ‘Why’ Workforce


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Presented to Florida Sterling Conference 2008 by Valerie Oberle (

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Strategies for Managing and Motivating the Gen ‘Why’ Workforce

  1. 1. Strategies for Managing and Motivating the Gen ‘Why’ Workforce Presented to Florida Sterling Conference By Valerie Oberle
  2. 2. Who are we? Who are they? <ul><li>Boomers 1946-1964 </li></ul><ul><li>Gen X – 1964-1979 </li></ul><ul><li>Gen Y– 1980 - 1994 </li></ul>The Echo Boomers
  3. 3. I just can’t count on them to be dependable They live for their social time…it drives me crazy! What’s with the piercings and tatoos?? They just don’t have the work ethic we did! They question everything and don’t follow rules!! Why???
  4. 4. Our Attitudes and Influences Shape our Behaviors <ul><li>Parents/Family </li></ul><ul><li>School/Education/Training </li></ul><ul><li>Religion/Morality </li></ul><ul><li>Friends/Peers </li></ul><ul><li>Media/Culture </li></ul>
  5. 5. Attitudes & Influences of Adolescence Source: Employing Gen Why? By Eric Chester Jobs are a dime a doz I’ll work if I have to Hard to find Jobs Drive-Bys Drive-Thrus Drive-Ins For Kicks Might not happen! Sucks Is Ours The Future Gen Why ’ 79 – ‘94 Gen X-rs ’ 64 – ’79 Boomers ’ 46 – ‘64 Topic
  6. 6. Attitudes & Influences of Adolescence Source: Employing Gen Why? By Eric Chester Jobs are a dime a doz I’ll work if I have to Hard to find Jobs Drive-Bys Drive-Thrus Drive-Ins For Kicks Might not happen! Sucks Is Ours The Future Gen Why ’ 79 – ‘94 Gen X-rs ’ 64 – ’79 Boomers ’ 46 – ‘64 Topic
  7. 7. Attitudes & Influences of Adolescence Source: Employing Gen Why? By Eric Chester Masters At ease Ignore – some knowledge Technology Demand! Accept Dislike Change Via cell, email, text, My Space… Via personal phone Via parents Communi-cation Gen Why ’ 79 – ‘94 Gen X-rs ’ 64 – ’79 Boomers ’ 46 – ‘64 Topic
  8. 8. For them life is an all-you-can-eat buffet offering unlimited choices, few rules, and pay as you go system!
  9. 9. A few facts <ul><li>25% increase in young managers (20-24 yr old) in last 2 years </li></ul><ul><li>Retail jobs expect to grow by 15% in next 5 years </li></ul><ul><li>Service jobs will grow by a whopping 47% </li></ul><ul><li>Turnover in 12 mos or less: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20-24 yr old – 54% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>16-19 yr old – 78% </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. More facts… <ul><li>1 in 3 not Caucasian </li></ul><ul><li>2 in 4 single parent home </li></ul><ul><li>4 in 5 working mothers </li></ul>
  11. 11. How do we instill a solid work ethic (patience, determination, integrity, persistence, ingenuity) when the world around them says they can get what they want without it?
  12. 12. We Need To Understand this Wonderful Generation!!
  13. 13. THEN NOW WORK ETHIC DIFFERENCES <ul><li>Teens had to work to buy a </li></ul><ul><li>car and cool stuff </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs for teens were hard to </li></ul><ul><li>find </li></ul><ul><li>The boss was the boss </li></ul><ul><li>Employers were to be </li></ul><ul><li>respected above all </li></ul><ul><li>School first, then job, then </li></ul><ul><li>friends/activities </li></ul><ul><li>Unethical employees were fired </li></ul><ul><li>A kid is a kid is a kid. </li></ul><ul><li>“ You’re no different than </li></ul><ul><li>anyone else. If you want to </li></ul><ul><li>Achieve great things, you </li></ul><ul><li>have to work harder than </li></ul><ul><li>the next guy” </li></ul><ul><li>Parents give teens a car </li></ul><ul><li>and other cool stuff </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs for teens are in </li></ul><ul><li>endless supply </li></ul><ul><li>The boss is your peer, if </li></ul><ul><li>not your buddy </li></ul><ul><li>Employees are to be respected </li></ul><ul><li>above all </li></ul><ul><li>Friends/activities first, then </li></ul><ul><li>school, then job </li></ul><ul><li>Unethical employees can become </li></ul><ul><li>CEO </li></ul><ul><li>Every kid is a gift from God. </li></ul><ul><li>“ You’re special. You’re destined </li></ul><ul><li>to do great things and have it </li></ul><ul><li>all someday, because no one else </li></ul><ul><li>in the world is exactly like you” </li></ul>Source:
  14. 14. Common Traits of Gen Why <ul><li>Impatient </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing up in a high-speed world drives instant gratification </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adaptability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They move in sinc with change and in fact demand it in the work place </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Innovative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They have a fresh perspective and love looking for new ways to do things. They are ultimate risk takers and speak boldly about their thoughts </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Efficient </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They like to use minimal effort and resources in least amount of time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Desensitized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But not dehumanized </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disengaged </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Their minds operate like DVDs (not VCRs) causing a need for loose structure </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Skeptical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They’ve been conned, manipulated, cheated, and exploited so they don’t automatically trust or believe what they see or hear </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resilient </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They have been exposed to so much negativity they are able to take things in stride and move on. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Disrespectful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They feel they are owed respect by others and others must earn it from them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bluntly expressive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They have been encourage to speak their minds and they do … boldly, bluntly, and loudly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Committed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fiercely loyal to causes and purposes they believe in. When you believe in them and genuinely care about them they will be loyal to you and your organization </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Gen Whys want to do the right, to trust and be trusted, and have a life with purpose
  19. 19. Strategies for Employing and Working with Gen Whys
  20. 20. Recruitment/Hiring <ul><li>Be the best place to work </li></ul><ul><li>Explain expectations in advance, i.e. appearance standards </li></ul><ul><li>Look to your workforce of Gen Why to help recruit </li></ul><ul><li>Streamline your hiring process! </li></ul><ul><li>Follow up promptly </li></ul>
  21. 21. Orientation and Training <ul><li>Engage them socially from the beginning; make it a banner day!! </li></ul><ul><li>Get to know them personally </li></ul><ul><li>Make training multi-sensory </li></ul><ul><li>Make it relevant…explain WHY </li></ul><ul><li>Make if FUN! </li></ul><ul><li>Involve them in the training </li></ul><ul><li>Treat with respect, as adults </li></ul><ul><li>Connect them with the purpose of the organization </li></ul>
  22. 22. Teach DO praise
  23. 23. Apply Positive Reinforcement <ul><li>The moment you stop noticing is the moment they stop improving </li></ul><ul><li>Look for opportunities to recognize the right behaviors – be specific </li></ul><ul><li>Gen Whys love the spotlight and to be recognized by peers </li></ul>
  24. 24. Don’t Bore Them… Learn to Zag <ul><li>Boomers and Gen Xers like plans, order, linear progression, and predictability </li></ul><ul><li>Gen Yrs are easily b.o.r.e.d. </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to multi-tasking talent </li></ul><ul><li>Change environment, responsibilities often when possible </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid predictability </li></ul>
  25. 25. Tune in to their Frequency <ul><li>Read their magazines, web sites, video games </li></ul><ul><li>Set up a My Space or Face Book account </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate the expected outcome </li></ul><ul><li>Really listen for understanding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ then you know what you know and what they know” </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Have Firm Policies in Place <ul><li>Explain clearly early on; particularly those hardest to enforce </li></ul><ul><li>Explain why </li></ul><ul><li>Gen Y will more likely follow rules if they recognize them as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fair, relevant, consistent, and enforced </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Revisit your rules, are they still relevant? </li></ul>
  27. 27. Be a Powerful Communicator <ul><li>Listen to your employees as individuals </li></ul><ul><li>‘Link’ new employees to others </li></ul><ul><li>Train your staff to watch for potential ‘drop outs’ </li></ul><ul><li>Model, Mentor and Motivate </li></ul><ul><li>Involve your Gen Whys in everything you can! </li></ul>
  28. 28. Take-away Ideas from the US Army <ul><li>Link to a strong sense of purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Build loyalty through a worthwhile contribution </li></ul><ul><li>Be 100% honest in every phase of the operation </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the importance of stimulation and change </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage camaraderie </li></ul><ul><li>Build strong teamwork and unity </li></ul>
  29. 29. What Employees Want Most in a Leader 1 Trust Builder 2 Esteem Builder 3 Flexibility Expert 4 Communicator 5 Talent Developer and Coach 6 Talent Finder 7 High Performance Builder 8 Climate Builder 9 Retention Monitor 10 Retention Expert MOST IMPORTANT LESS IMPORTANT © 2006 TalentKeepers Source: Talent Keepers, Inc.
  30. 30. A “Handshake” Agreement <ul><ul><li>“ I’m glad you’re here and I want you to stay.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turnover affects all of us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tell me what’s important to you and why you stay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’ll commit to be the best leader I can be </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will you commit to sharing your concerns with me? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I will commit to do whatever I can to help keep you here…we’re in this together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Let’s shake on it.” </li></ul></ul>© 2006 TalentKeepers Source: Talent Keepers Inc.
  31. 31. Every leader is telling a story about what he or she believes.
  32. 32. Be Passionate <ul><li>For your work </li></ul><ul><li>For your people </li></ul><ul><li>For your customers </li></ul><ul><li>For your community </li></ul>
  33. 33. Be Clear <ul><li>About your values </li></ul><ul><li>About the goals </li></ul><ul><li>About how people fit in </li></ul><ul><li>About your expectations </li></ul>
  34. 34. Be Encouraging <ul><li>Give constant feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrate talents </li></ul><ul><li>Stretch people to achieve </li></ul>
  35. 35. Be Trustworthy & Accountable <ul><li>Be mutually accountable for the success of each employee </li></ul><ul><li>Provide training, resources and support </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear about consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Do what you say you will do! </li></ul>
  36. 36. Be Generous <ul><li>With your head </li></ul><ul><li>With your heart </li></ul><ul><li>With your feet </li></ul>
  37. 37. Leaders will get the behavior they demonstrate and tolerate
  38. 38. Recommended Reading <ul><li>Employing Generation Why? By Eric Chester </li></ul><ul><li>Boomers, Xers, and Other Strangers - Understanding Generational Differences That Divide Us by Dr. Rick and Kathy Hicks </li></ul><ul><li>Generations at Work – Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, & Nexters in Your Workplace by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, & Bob Filipczak </li></ul>For Further Assistance Please Contact Valerie Oberle President, The Oberle Group [email_address] 336.368.2831 office