As Generation Y gradually files in with Generation X, the all too familiar dynamic of kids and parents not seeing eye to eye is given a whole new setting in workplaces all over the country. Unlike Generation Y, Generation X grew up in an era where work could only take place within the confines of the office, where long hours were a sign of dedication and loyalty to the company. Alternatively, much of Generation Y has never known a life without technology bending the rules of when and where work can be performed. This difference alone has caused misperceptions between both groups of workers, and often conflicts when it comes to communicating and understanding one another.
Leadership From the Gen Y Perspective
Leadership is another concept that both Generation X and Generation Y have drastically different perspectives of and experiences with. Gen Y leaders tend to place more emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. They are less dictatorial and more encouraging of individual perspectives on a given assignment, rather than forcing their own ideas on the team. As a result, Gen Y leaders tend to conduct more team-building exercises and meetings to meet the needs of everyone in the workplace.
In addition to this unique perspective of leadership, Gen Y professionals want to facilitate a flexible, more convenient work environment for the rest of the team. They place a high value on giving workers enough time for family and personal life, so they encourage more vacation time, shorter hours, and telecommuting to make this possible. With all of these new styles of leadership, corporate culture tends to lose some of its rigidity without sacrificing productivity.
Contrasts in Leadership Experience
Professionals in Generation Y are more likely to have undergone multiple experiential leadership opportunities than their Generation X counterparts. So, although their older co-workers may have more leadership experience within the workplace, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have more leadership experience in general. For example, many Gen Y members have undergone high school community service projects that have helped them develop skills required for working with teams and organizing activities.
Although a portion of Generation X has likely also participated in community service projects, the percentage is likely to be much lower than that of Generation Y. This is partially due to the fact that institutions of higher learning only recently began placing greater emphasis on community service participation when evaluating students for admittance.
Generation Y attended school during an era where there was a greater focus on developing leadership skills as part of the basic education curriculum. From leadership classes and clubs to student governments as early as elementary school, Generation Y is often more comfortable in leadership positions than Generation X.
Accommodating Generation Y
Current employees and the company as a whole must adapt to the different styles and preferences of Generation Y in order to ensure a smoother transition. One of the best ways business owners can accommodate these new employees is by offering more training and advancement opportunities for both Gen X and Gen Y employees. This will help keep both groups up to date with the latest trends and information regarding organization, time management, leadership, and so on. In addition to this important adjustment, business owners should also look into offering greater schedule flexibility and environmentally friendly upgrades to better accommodate the new team members coming in.
Generation Y is leading the world in a new and exciting direction that may be intimidating and difficult to understand from the perspective of Generation X. Despite the initial tension and misunderstanding that may come with this new integration, the next generation of leadership appears to be one that will benefit workers of all ages.