Nader Seifen, TeleChoice.pdf - Business Franchise Magazine

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Nader Seifen, TeleChoice.pdf - Business Franchise Magazine

expert advice

Generation-Y

Employees:

How to make them ROCK

and improve their productivity

Cast your mind back to the 1950s

with the advent of rock and roll

music. Followers of Bill Haley &

the Comets, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly

were considered possessed by the devil.

The perceptions were so bad that in 1957

Professor of Psychology, A. M. Meerio,

from New York’s Columbia University

warned that “if we cannot stem the tide

of rock and roll music, with its waves of

rhythmic narcosis…we are preparing our

own downfall in the midst of pandemic

funeral dancers”.

The hysteria continued. In the 1960s The

Beatles, Rolling Stones and the hippies were

totally condemned because of their long hair.

Worse again was the 1970s with the hard

rock and heavy metal… ‘oh heaven help us

when this hopeless generation grows up; the

world is going to collapse’.

Well guess what? This is the generation

running the world today, managing

corporations, running franchises and small

business. I am one of those Baby-Boomers.

This generation gap is nothing new. In fact,

the ancient King David wrote about it 3,000

years ago, “The stone which the builders

rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

In a similar vein, most managers and

business owners today loudly declare that

one of the hardest challenges in business

relates to managing Generation-Y (some call

it “Generation-Y bother!”).

The overwhelming perception is that they’re

lazy, selfish, opinionated, uncommitted, with

the expectation to walk out of university

into the GM’s role, and the list goes on. So

much so that many articles have been written

22 Business Franchise Australia and New Zealand


“Generation-Y have been created, influenced and

shaped by their Baby-Boomer/Generation-X parents.”

Nader Seifen, Head of Franchising and Leasing,

TeleChoice.

in magazines, books published and much

research into the issue conducted; and yet,

the complaints continue.

Demographers vary on the definition of

Generation-Y. The broadest definition is

those born between mid 1980s and the late

1990s. This group of the workforce is now

roughly between the ages of 15 to 30 years

old. Demographers also refer to this group

as the E-generation. The E-generation

has evolved from their use of electronic

technologies, they are more environmentally

aware; their sensitivity to social justice shows

a mind that is emotionally attuned.

The evidence

A report by Hewlett, Sherbin and Sumberg

(Harvard Business Review, July/Aug 2009)

shows that 84 per cent of Generation-Y

profess to be very ambitious and will go

the extra mile for their company’s success.

Also, 87 per cent say that work/life balance

matters to them. The same report identifies

the earlier generations as hard workers, 42

per cent of Baby-Boomers expect to work

beyond the age of 65. It seems that our

generation of Baby-Boomers perceive a

contradiction between our approach and that

of Generation-Y. For Baby-Boomers, the

hard work in the past now earns the ability to

ask for work/life balance – we’ve earned it!

Whereas the Generation-Y’s haven’t earned

their stripes in order to ask for work/life

balance. Worse still, how can Generation-Y’s

purport to be ambitious, without putting in

the hard yards.

A survey by an independent research firm

conducted on behalf of leading recruitment

firm, Robert Half International reported the

following Myths vs. Realities: (see table 1)

Myth about Generation-Y

Live in the moment, would rather play than

work.

They expect instant gratification.

More focussed on personal matters at work,

at the expense of their work duties.

They can’t take direction.

They have a sense of entitlement and don’t

want to pay their dues.

Generation-Y reported that respecting their

manager is the most important factor in

their job. This ranked higher than liking

their colleagues, work/life balance, short

commute, nice office or state of the art

technology.

Getting Generation-Y into the

swing

1. Are you their dream boss?

Generation-Y described their ideal

manager as skilful, an advisor and

supporter, pleasant and caring, flexible

and open minded. The nightmare boss is

Reality

One third of respondents were concerned

about finding and keeping a job, supporting

their family, saving money.

They’re focussed on the future and funding

their retirement.

73 per cent are concerned about balancing

personal and professional obligations.

They are raised on instant communication,

and require frequent feedback. Only 10

per cent are comfortable with once a week

communication with their boss. Most want

daily feedback.

Around half believe that that they should

serve one to two years at entry level jobs.

73 per cent think they are likely to go

back to school to obtain further academic

qualifications in order to get ahead with

promotions.

a micromanager, not concerned for their

employee’s professional development,

and blames everyone but themselves. In

fact, Mercer’s international employee

engagement index shows Australian

employees are more likely to leave their

employer than their counterparts in USA,

UK and Europe, ranking “being treated

with respect” and ”quality of leadership”

as factors that most influence their

decision to leave (BRW Dec 2011).

2. Look out the window

Jim Colins author of “Good to Great”

identified windows-and-mirrors as a

common trait in managers that have

Table 1

Business Franchise Australia and New Zealand 23


expert advice

surpassed their competitors and some of

them out performed the stock market by

up to 80 times. The successful managers

looked out the window and attributed their

success to their employees then looked

at the mirror and attributed their failures

to themselves. By contrast, the failing

managers did the opposite; looked at the

mirror for the glory and looked out the

window to blame their employees for

the failures. In a nut shell, cut the blame

game.

3. Communication and courtesy

Respecting them as an individual will

make them feel important. Dale Carnegie

in “How to Win Friends and Influence

People” suggests simple approaches in

interactions with other people that can

easily win them to your way of thinking

like, giving them a fine reputation to live

up to, throwing down a challenge, and

dramatising your ideas. Research by

Professor Berger from Wharton Business

School has found that teams respond

with greater motivation when they are

slightly short of the target. The motivation

waned when they were far behind, slightly

ahead, and when they were tied or lacked

feedback. All these are sure to work with

equally well with Generation-Y. Tell them

they’re almost there and they will try

harder.

4. Motivate and inspire them

Carnegie suggests you can motivate and

inspire by showing sincere appreciation

for the effort that was put in, rather than

a putdown “this is not good enough” or

“we never did it this way when I was your

age”. In the 1970s, Langer’s experiment

in Harvard University showed that making

a request without providing a reason

why this request is made reduced the

compliance with that request. That is, only

60 per cent of people actually complied,

compared to 95 per cent inspired to

comply when a reason for the request was

added.

5. Clear communication of accountabilities

Due to their inexperience Generation-Y

may inadvertently appear apathetic -

psychologists use the term “bystander

apathy syndrome”. One story that

highlights this syndrome was in 1964.

Kitty Genovese was murdered in the

presence of many bystanders, yet none

of them called the police because they

all assumed that someone else will do

it. This can happen to a Generation-Y

employee, who may assume that someone

else will do the job. Smart managers

always ensure that a task is assigned to

somebody specific; to avoid a general

assumption that someone will do it.

6. Incentivise them

Employees will gravitate towards the tasks

or actions that get rewarded. If you set

short-term goals, that’s what you’ll get,

short term results. Pulitzer Prize winner,

Upton Sinclair says “it is difficult to get a

man to understand something, when his

salary depends upon his not understanding

it.” In simple terms, what gets rewarded

gets done.

7. Birds of a feather flock together

When you convert one Generation-Y

employee to success, chances are they

will have friends of the same calibre; they

are the ones to recruit. And now you’re

rocking!

It seems that the Baby-Boomers and

Gen-X’s have forgotten all the prophets

of doom predicting their failures and are

now complaining about the attitude and

work ethic of Generation-Y! Truth is

Generation-Y have been created, influenced

and shaped by their Baby-Boomer/

Generation-X parents, like the old song ‘Cats

in the Cradle’ says “my son (daughter) has

grown up just like me”. Just as we grew out

of our phases, cut our hippie hair, abandoned

the discotheques, turned our attention to our

careers and focussed on raising our families,

the same will happen again to Generation-Y.

Your best solution is to show leadership, and

to give them a chance.

Nader Seifen is Head of Franchising

and Leasing with TeleChoice. He has

been involved in managing distribution

channels for 30 years, working for

franchisors and as a franchisee for seven

years.

Phone: 03 8699 2555

Email: franchise@telechoice.com.au

24 Business Franchise Australia and New Zealand

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