Generation Y in the workplace and the marketplace

Jason Dorsey, The Gen Y Guy

Jason Dorsey, The Gen Y Guy

Last week, we introduced you to Jason Dorsey, the Gen Y Guy. This week, we've asked him to share some advice about managing  and marketing to Generation Y. And we also discuss this generation's relationship to data. Check out his answers to our questions below. (And remember, Gen Y and Millennials are two names for the same generation.)

What advice can you offer for managing Generation Y employees? 

Dorsey: My top three tips for managing Gen Y are:

# 3: Don’t cater or coddle to Gen Y. This attracts the wrong kind of Gen Y employees (like the ones who bring their Mom to work if the employee gets a negative performance review!). Adapt to Gen Y, yes. Cater to Gen Y, no. The difference is clearly communicating what you want from Gen Y and then consistently holding them accountable. The ones who are the right fit will stay.

# 2: Recognize that Gen Y communicates differently than other generations. They did not grow up talking on phones or having eye-to-eye conversations at the dinner table. Gen Y can be great communicators in the business world, but they may need some initial training on how to communicate in the way you want.

# 1: Give Gen Y ongoing feedback. We don’t need a 360-degree review, just ten seconds once a month that shows us you noticed our performance. Give us a tip on how to improve or let us know what you see that we’re doing well. We just want to know that you noticed. No letter to Mom necessary!

What about courting to Gen Y (Millennials) as customers? 

Dorsey: There is one primary, critical difference between Millennials in the workplace and Millennials in the marketplace. In the workplace, you’re the boss and you’re paying us to do something—so we should step up and do it. Period. And if not, fire us.

However, in the marketplace there is ZERO incentive for us to adapt. We won’t change how we buy based on how you like to sell and market. This is a HUGE challenge because 1) Gen Y buys differently than any previous generation and 2) every generation likes to sell in the way they prefer to buy. This creates a natural disconnect that many brands and marketers are struggling to overcome. At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we help brands and marketers solve this exact challenge.

You say it’s a myth that this generation is tech savvy. Why is that?

Dorsey: Because this implies that Gen Y knows how technology actually works. Our interviews don’t reveal this as true. Instead, what we find is that Gen Y can’t live without their phone or favorite app—but they have no idea how it actually works. This changes the focus from the “how” of technology. Instead, it puts all the emphasis on the user interface and user experience. In other words: How simple can you make it so it just works?

What implications does this have for the way Gen Y consumes data? 

Dorsey: Data to Gen Y means many different things. At a holistic level, data is interesting because it gives us more ways to view our world. But where the data comes from and, most importantly, how we can act on it is critical to Gen Y. We are a wildly visual, so data points and stats are only as compelling as their visual illustrations. With the right data visualizations we can better understand the data, how to interpret it, and what actions to take based on it.

So, consumption of data needs to be in a visually appealing interface … not through spreadsheets or computer programs, for example?     

Dorsey: Absolutely. Spread sheets… What are spread sheets?

Does this generation interpret data differently as well?

Dorsey: We all naturally bring our generational or life stage lens to look at data. It’s through this lens that we make actions based on the data. So, in essence, it’s not that we are all looking at the same data, it’s that we’re all looking at the same data through a different generational lens, which can lead to very different conclusions.

Thanks, Jason. We'll look forward to seeing you at the Premier Business Leadership Series in Orlando!


About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

+Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

1 Comment

  1. Alison/Dorsey

    Great article. I've been working on the whole 'Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)' message (prior to joining SAS) for 2yrs and one of the primary drivers in corporate organisations is to address the needs of Gen Y.
    A couple of years ago in a survey, a 'Cool' place to work out stripped 'Salary' as a reason to join a company in university levers. Within that survey result was that the 'coolness' was in the organisations use and adoption of technology. But not what it did or how it did it, but what it allowed people to do.
    Namely, work in small teams effectively and disband those teams quickly if it wasn’t working. Communicate freely in as many mediums as possible both inside and outside the company boundaries. Find people and skills to help on tasks quickly without lengthy decision periods, sign off processes or divisional structures and provide information on what I need, when I need it and more importantly not ALL of it, just the stuff I need now - Something Visual Analytics does standing on its head.
    As I said to a team member who recently took on a graduate. Don’t expect to review them quarterly, they will expect review and feedback on everything they do for you. Best you learn how to Tweet my friend…


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