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Motivating, Leading and Inspiring Gen Y

Published: 3 years, 6 months ago

Author: Alice Thompson-Seagrave

As a member of Generation Y cohort myself (don’t judge me, we aren’t all lazy with bad manners), I have experienced coming into a corporate world that’s tech savvy, ruthless and flooded with talented determined youngsters, all competing for the best positions and opportunities.


So, if you just hired upcoming young talent in your team, how do you lead and inspire my generation in the modern corporate world? Well, if you stick to these 5 simple tips, you may unearth skills, reliability and agility in Gen Y that they didn’t even know they had.

1. Consistent treatment

When hiring someone who is potentially the same age your own children, you may have a natural tendency to treat them that way. The outcome may be they feel “talked down to” or that they can get away with behaviour that would not be accepted from older employees.

As a leader, you need to establish a relationship that will not only assist the newbie in learning the tricks of the trade, but also show everyone that there is a high level of fairness and consistency in the workplace. Let’s be honest, most Gen Y’s, myself included, love good office banter and believe that having a daily laugh in the workplace increases morale. Of course we do not want to turn the office into a circus, but we want to be taken seriously and treated like part of the team.

So next time you are in a meeting and there is fresh blood in the room, show them they will be treated like everyone else, crack an (appropriate) joke that might lighten the mood, and then get down to business. Setting the office tone for Gen Y is crucial in managing their expectations.


2. Provide clear direction

Setting the tone in the workplace will assist us in understanding what behaviour is acceptable as every organisation has a different work culture. In a workplace that is constantly changing and growing, new employees left to their own devices may feel they are “drifting with no direction.”  A simple way to avoid this demotivating and often challenging scenario, is to keep them informed of the company’s goals, vision and direction, and give them responsibility and a sense of ownership over their work and the results will come. Accountability is key!

Of course, support may be needed, each case will vary, use your leadership skills to determine the level of support they may need.


3. Explain the rules

How was I supposed to know that Facebook is off limits in work hours? Or that mobile phones are not allowed in meetings? These policies weren’t outlined in my contract!

There are certain unwritten rules in an organisation that you learn over time. It is crucial for a senior team member or manager to explain these along with formal office policies to a newbie. The last thing we want to do is tread on people’s toes. I personally pride myself on common sense and the ability to ask questions, however, not everyone is able to do that, so help us out!


4. Give guidance

I have always had very close relationships with my bosses, seeking their advice and support with not only professional, but personal matters too. After all, leaders get to where they are because they are approachable and can provide trusted advice.


Don’t become our parent! Times have changed, work is becoming a social environment where friendships and personal relationships can be formed. I personally think this great, but you need to walk a fine line between being a substitute parent and creating a mentoring relationship.


5. Move forward – let them fly!

I will be first to admit that Gen Y’s can sometimes have a sense of entitlement whereas the older generations had to earn their stripes through tenure and hard work in an organisation. However, don’t shut us down when we bring new ideas to the table. Explore valid ideas further and allow us to investigate it’s practicality for the organisation. 

A motivated Gen Y will most likely do this research in their own time and impress you by not only achieving their work targets, but bringing a potentially great idea to fruition. If the idea is no good, at least productivity hasn’t been lost by spending hours trying to be innovative.


The Source has published a research paper called On board – this outlines the importance of the first 100 days in a new role. Motivation usually hits a low at the 100 day point if the employee has not been appropriately engaged, and recovery from this point can be slow and painful causing frustration for both the employee and the employer. Meet regularly with your newbie, set targets and goals and keep them motivated. If we feel valued, we will be loyal and determined to impress you.

For further information, contact Alice Thompson-Seagrave at The Source on 03 9650 6665.