Managers and Gen Y: The mindsets that keep them apart

Young Gen Y workers and their managers continue to clash in many organisations. But could it be that the two sides want the same thing?

Managers and Gen Y: The mindsets that keep them apart

While both managers and their Gen Y staff aim for workplace success, a breakdown in perceptions of one another prevents them from collaborating effectively.

A study from Gen Y research and consulting firm Millennial Branding and American Express entitled Gen Y Workplace Expectations found that Gen Y workers view their managers as able to offer experience (59%), wisdom (41%) and a willingness to mentor (33%).

However, managers view their Gen Y employees as full of unrealistic expectations (51%) and poor work ethics (47%), who are easily distracted (46%).

Further research by Lightspeed Research – who surveyed 1,000 Gen Y employees and 1,000 managers – revealed further insights regarding the relationship between Gen Y and their managers. Both groups agree that soft skills (61% managers, 65% Gen Y) are the most important asset, while also agreeing on the importance of subject matter expertise when looking towards career advancements.

Clashes begin to surface when examining Gen Y and entrepreneurship. While many managers (58%) are willing to offer Gen Y workers chances to engage in new business opportunities, only 40% of Gen Y are actually interested in doing so. This is compounded by the desire for more feedback and mentors from Gen Y. Fifty-three per cent stated a mentoring relationship would help them to become a more productive worker.

This demonstrates that both sides act in good faith, with managers wishing to give Gen Y the freedom they are believed to want, although in some instances leaving Gen Y uncertain and lost in the process.

“Managers should be setting proper expectations, giving [Gen Y] career support and help them develop the skills they will need today and in the future,” Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, said.

Instead of branching out on their own, Gen Y employees seek freedom in mobility within the organisation. Forty-eight per cent  of Gen Y workers surveyed expressed an interest in moving to other positions within the organisation.

They may also expect advancement faster: 66% of Gen Y workers feel it should take at least four years to become a manager, compared to 75% of managers feeling the same.

Digital autonomy is also important to Gen Y, with 69% believing they should have the rights to their social media profiles, including those they use during work hours. Fifty-four per cent of managers agree.

 

Do you find Gen Y and upper management clashing in your workplace? How have you resolved these conflicts?

 

Free newsletter

Our daily newsletter is FREE and keeps you up-to-date with the world of HR. Please complete the form below and click on subscribe for daily newsletters from HRD New Zealand.

Recent articles & video

Conducting reference checks: What you need to know

How can employers support staff in a time of tragedy?

The benefits and pitfalls of a 'four-day work week'

Are employees on maternity leave entitled to accrue leave?

Most Read Articles

Inside Krispy Kreme's recruitment strategy

Are employees on maternity leave entitled to accrue leave?

Is your workplace culture toxic?