Five Ways to Manage High Potential Gen Y Employees

Without a doubt, Generation Y is the workforce that requires the greatest amount of effort to manage when compared to any other in history. They want feedback NOW, they want training NOW, they want recognition NOW, and they want to create the lifestyle they desire NOW.

As demanding as it seems, there is a bright side to this high energy. If managers can learn how to harness their energy and coach them effectively, these young employees have the potential to be the highest producing generation ever. Below are some guiding principles that KLR Consulting research has found to work with Gen Y.

5 Principles of Successful Millennial Management


You Be the Leader

This generation has grown up with structure and supervision, with parents who were role models. The “You be the parent” TV commercials are right on. Millennials are looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. It’s not that they don’t want to be leaders themselves; they’d just like some great role models first. Though leading by example and working in the trenches with them, you will earn their respect, loyalty and might even have some fun along the way.


Consistently Provide Constructive Feedback and Recognition

Don’t wait for performance evaluations to tell them what they’re doing wrong or right. Do it daily. Tell them how to improve today. Avoid harping on the negative and accentuate the positive and most importantly, get them back on track immediately. Let them know when they have done a good job. Tie rewards and incentives to one thing and one thing only: performance.

And make sure to deliver them in close proximity to the event.

Then, create formal and informal mentoring partnerships where there can be constant exchange of knowledge, experience, and skills. They can teach the older pros about the latest technology and the older folks can share their historical memory, skills, knowledge and wisdom.

“If your top management isn’t spending at least a half day a month sitting down with someone twenty-five years old or younger, then they are blowing it.”  ~ Tom Peters


Provide Opportunities for Learning and Career Development

Gen Ys have high expectations of themselves. They want to be challenged and make meaningful contributions right away. They want opportunities to use the knowledge, skills and talents they have to solve problems, to innovate and to lead. A recent Randstad employee survey found that “trying new things” was the most popular item. They’re looking for growth, development and a career path.

Gen Yers are poised to be lifelong learners. For managers this means making training and development an organizational obsession.

Gen Yers will get bored and start updating their resumes if they stop learning.


Create a “Fun” Work Environment

Employers who embrace a fun, rather than traditional or conventional, company culture create a higher rate of job satisfaction with younger employees. What does fun mean? To Gen Y, it means converting the break room to a game room with video games and foosball. It means periodically bringing in a massage therapist for chair massages, an ice cream cart for sundaes, or a rolling barista for onsite lattes. It means setting up “work vacations” where a team gets to work on a project from a vacation house by the beach.

Relax the dress code while you’re at it.


Offer Flextime, Telecommuting and Other Benefits

Offering a variable work schedule–flexible hours or working from home–goes a long way toward attracting and retaining Gen Y talent. Flex time lets employees avoid rush hour traffic, attend a child’s event, or go surfing. Many Yers feel flex time and telecommuting make their lives better.

Gen Y is highly proficient with e-mailSMS messagingSkype video callingblogsforums and virtual online workrooms, they don’t see a need to be physically present in the same office to collaborate, solve problems or produce products.

If someone wants to take a two-hour break in the afternoon to go workout or take a nap, don’t drill them about where they were. If they want to finish their work from home at midnight, who cares as long as the work gets done.Employers who recognize and adapt to Gen Y’s needs will retain them longer and get more productive work from them.

While Gen Y is high-maintenance, the effort may just create the highest-producing generation in history.


What are you doing to better reach your high potential Gen Y Employees? Where have you failed in this arena? What best practices could you share? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

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4 responses to “Five Ways to Manage High Potential Gen Y Employees

  1. Kristi,

    I completely agree. One thing I would like to clarify is your mention of acting as a role model/ “parent-like” person. People need to keep in mind that managers need to take a parent-like role, but they should not speak to their Gen Yers as if they are children. Gen Yers do not like to be spoken down to. We may not be the same age or experience level, but there is something being brought to the table (at least with High Potential Gen Yers). Anyway, great post Kristi. Highly appreciated from this Gen Y.



  2. Absolutely. I wish business leaders will come to their senses and realise that an organisation is not a prison but a place to produce – the more the employee is satisfied the more he/she will produce. In the early 80″s a professor (don’t know his name) came up with what he called a “Quality Wheel” – “great employee satisfaction” leads to “high employee motivation” which leads to “high level of service quality” which leads to “”great customer satisfaction” which leads to “increased volume of business” which leads back to “great employee satisfaction” and it keeps repeating.



  3. Thank you for a very informative post. I just wrote something a tad similar with regards to working with Gen Y’ers based on my personal experience. I am still learning and you had one or two good tips I had not implemented or thought about. Feel free to stop by my site if you wish, since you were looking for thoughts and suggestions on this topic.


    • Thanks for your reply and a great big congratulations for the past year and all you have accomplished. May the year to come be just as blessed.



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