Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blogging the Sterling :: Strategies for managing and motivating the Gen-Why workforce (Part 4)

Some more concrete suggestions for leaders who lead Gen Y members.
  • Tune in to their frequency

  • Read their mags, web sites, video games.

  • Set up a MySpace or Facebook account

  • Communicate the expected outcome

  • Really listen for understanding, then you know what you know and what they know.

  • Explain policies and expectations clearly early on, particularly those hardest to enforce. Always explain the why.

  • Celebrate changing the rules. Sometimes organizations have BS rules; when the Gen Y member convinces you to change a rule, celebrate the change. Revisit your rules; ask if they are they still relevant. If not, change 'em.

  • Gen Y will more likely follow rules if they recognize them as fair, relevant, consistent, and enforced.

  • “Link” new employees to others… socialization is important.

  • Link to a strong sense of purpose. Know what the organization is about, how their role fits with the larger purpose, and the linkages to the larger organization.

  • Built loyalty through worthwhile contribution. Give the Gen Y member a chance to contribute.

  • Be 100% honest in every phase of your operation. Don’t hide the truth, ever.

  • Understand the importance of stimulation and change.

  • Encourage camaraderie, and build strong teamwork and unity
What do you think?


74 said...

Every one of those recommendations would have been appropriate and welcomed by us old folks who were in the service during the Vietnam days. All those years gone by and we are still learning the same lessons over and over.

John Willis said...

Don’t hide the truth, ever.

It's amazing that it would even be necessary to include this. Didn't we learn as very very young children, always tell the truth?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stinson,

How can Coasties find out about these types of conferences?

Thomas Jackson said...

What a great list of well reasoned ideas on how to connect. I see everyday, everyday - both private sector and CG leaders who think they know the answer to what our kids (read young Coasties) want. Some of us who have teen aged kids are pretty good at knowing what they like and don’t like, but sometimes I see leaders try to guess based on what they liked when they were “younger.”

That does not work. The logic fails and falls short of reality. We all need to sit back, take a deep breath and actually talk to our young Coasties (employees). Leaders seem afraid to speak to young people like, well, people. Recently I have visited several Coast Guard bases and consulted with leaders looking for insight on new issues affecting their Units (personally and professionally). What continually amazes me is how many leaders have no (that’s zero) metrics to base their assumptions on the behavior and habits of young Coasties.

This is not “your Coast Guard” it’s “our Coast Guard;” or our Company. Our success depends on these (new) employees. That’s the view that leaders (managers) need to take to understand where they and their service (company) are headed. This holds true for private sector companies as well. If you think you know it all, I can assure you that you do not. Especially when it comes to young people.

Sometimes we need to find a way to sit down, have a beer and talk life with these young people. They have a life, and they like telling you about it (most of the time). Sometimes you have to pull it out of them. Find common ground. Even an old fart can find one thing he or she has in common with a young person today. Motorcycles seems to hit it with some, soccer with others, and computer games with most.

A clue here is that you can get a conversation going with lots of young people by telling them you’re an idiot about something (you are) they know lots about. Ask them to make you smart, then lead into other topics.

Just my thoughts on organizational excellence.

Peter A. Stinson said...

Anonymous, how can Coasties find out about conferences like this? Great question.

First off, we have internal conferences such as this. I think of the upcoming Innovation Expo (see as one example. The upcoming HPT conference as another; see

For state Baldrige-based conferences, see If you're in Virginia, I am pretty sure the Virginia conference is in September.