Business Gen Y Style

By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News

They are your youngest hires. They were born between 1978 and 1995, and you might think of them as juniors, newbies, kids. But they are the Millenials, and they should be taken seriously, because they are our future business leaders. When the current generations retire, they will be the ones who take over.

Most companies struggle to understand these millenials. Managers and human resources professionals are puzzled by this generation, and confused by their different skills and values. They are ambitious, wanting upward mobility in a short period of time. They actively seek mentoring, learning from an experienced workforce in a way the baby boomers couldn’t. Their minds are open, but they also have a determination that older generations find hard to accept.

Members of this generation devour technology. We all know older colleagues who still struggle with email, but working alongside them might be the millenials, who are extremely comfortable with electronic communications. Technology is an integral part of their lives, and they use it to work flexibly, anytime from anywhere. They prefer tech savvy work environments and are not interested in adapting to strict company policies that ban readily available technology tools.

They value sharing and open communication. Their interaction is not necessarily face to face — they are working with people from around the world, from all walks of life, at all times. They are collaborators, but they also enjoy working alone.

Many companies act like it is the millenials who should adapt to the existing workplace cultures, not the other way around. They think sooner or later this generation will have to mold itself into the existing systems. Yet, at these companies millenials show a high level of dissatisfaction and they often leave to pursue their goals elsewhere.

This generation is showing by example that in the future your business, your products and your brands, cannot be marketed the way they used to be. This is a generation that challenges companies at their root, and the ones who can respond quickly and flexibly to the values of this new demographic will be the ones who enjoy successful futures.

Most companies, however, are simply not equipped to handle these changing dynamics. How is it possible that companies pride themselves on innovative solutions and excellent operations, yet fail to prepare their organizations for the future? Aren’t their human resources the best resources they have? The hard truth is that most companies are run in an old fashioned way. They assume they hold all the power. Take job interviews, for instance. Hiring managers act as if it is only they who decide on a candidate, not realizing it is a two way street. If they don’t sell their company well, talented people will not come to work for them.

Generation Y’s challenge to this mentality will only intensify. In 10 years, the baby boomers, born between 1943 and 1964, will be retiring, and the oldest of Generation Y will hit 40. At that time, they will make up the majority of the working population, and they will be the young leaders beginning to take the reins of our companies. They will reshape our organizations to look more like the new business models we see their entrepreneurial brethren creating today.

So Millenials aren’t just here to stay, they are here to take over. And since it’s going to happen anyway, why not get ahead of the curve, and infuse more of that Gen Y spirit into your company today? No matter what kind of industry you work in, or which department, strive to keep up with the times and technologies as best as you can. Become more comfortable with open networking, and fluid working relationships, and collaborative work styles. Otherwise, the generation gap will increase day by day, and your company will grow old and stale and will soon be overtaken by the young upstarts who might seem inexperienced and naïve to you today.

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