Ask the Expert: V2 Issue2

1. My team members who belong to the twenty years plus age group just don’t take the initiative to get their work done. It is irritating to constantly tell them about the tasks they need to complete. They really don’t seem to have the work ethic that my older team members do. Please tell me how do I get them to show accountability for achieving their goals and objectives?

The work ethic of earlier generations was different. Typically, they were intrinsically motivated. They worked for work’s sake or because their self-image was based on their careers. The current generation has different work ethics. Most are not motivated by threats of punishment or firing. The good news is basically Gen Y is keen on performing. They have already been exposed to a performance culture. But they are used to their parents managing their schedules and activities. Getting them to drive their own performance will require guidance from you as their manager.

Spell out tasks to them clearly even the smallest of details. Do not expect them to understand what seems obvious to you. Demonstrate clearly to them the purpose of all tasks. Explain the business priorities, the big impact of what they are doing, especially for those tasks that may seem less interesting to them.  Regularly reiterate priorities since typically new and exciting projects grab their attention regardless of their priority status. Ensure there are easy systems in place for them to understand from you about their progress or for you to follow up with them. 

Get excited about the tasks with them to push them to take action. To ensure their energy stays high, keep up the excitement. Provide lots of performance feedback.  Coach them and provide them training and development opportunities to help them increase their expertise.What works with the current generation is setting short term goals with an end reward. Most importantly get to know them and their needs, even personal ones better. (Do read the article in this issue about understanding Gen Y.) Find out what is it that they are expecting to get out of their jobs? Link the benefit of doing a task with what they desire in a job.


2. In my team, I have people belonging to both Gen Y and earlier generations.  How do I get them to work together effectively with their diverse styles?

Conflicts between generations arise due to the perceptions they have of each other. For instance, older generations may think the youngsters in the workplace are lazy. While the Gen Y may think the older generations are too rigid. But there are ways to get people belonging to different generations to work together.



    • Encourage them to draw upon each other’s strength: Help your team members understand each other’s strengths. Then focus on leveraging those strengths for the team’s benefit rather than becoming unproductive as a team because of value differences. While allocating work, team up people from different generations who enjoy spending time together and learning from each other. So an experienced person can share his/her wisdom about the organization or the functional field with a Gen Y in exchange for knowledge on the latest in technology.

    • Build on the common values they share: All of them want a culture of empowerment, regular and constructive feedback, to be treated with respect, high commitment to the task from their colleagues and honesty in relationships. So create an environment which encourages these.

    • Focus on the team objectives: A great team is one which has great teamwork. Regardless of the generation each team member belongs to, get all of them to identify with the common team objectives and get them thinking on how is everyone going to work together successfully to achieve the same.

    • Allocate tasks based on what each generation likes:  So for example it may be good idea to give the “research on new things” part of the project to Gen Y while others focus on figuring it out how to practically implement it.

    • Have team norms but provide flexibiltiy on how each one wants to learn and work: Some generations are looking for handwritten notes. Others do not like to work independently, and they expect to have meetings any time, any place. Some generations will not entertain hearing about the project outside of work. And the Yers don’t want any meetings at all, they only communicate via voice mail and e-mail. Treat and manage them as per individual needs and not the same.


3. I am bright. So I am able to finish the tasks assigned to me fast. My other team members are slow and perhaps need to stay late beyond office hours. But not me. But my manager does not get it and expects me to be in office late? I am unable to meet my other commitments in my personal life because of this. What do I do?


I know how frustrated you must be feeling. If you think this is a temporary phenomenon then adjusting to this maybe the best thing to do. If not, talk to your manager. Maybe your manager has his reasons for expecting you to stay up late. Try and find out before you talk to him. Is the project running late because of which you need to put in extra effort for sometime. Have you not completed tasks assigned to you on time in the past? Is he the kind who thinks face time is equal to quality and quantity of work? Does he want you to be with the team and help them with their workload? Does he belong the generation for whom work is everything and who thinks it should be the same with others?

Also until one proves oneself it is difficult for anybody to assess your capability. Maybe your manager does not realize that you are smart. Why don’t you request for a review of the work done so far. Let him see the progress you have made. I think once you prove you can do good work in less time, he will not feel the need for you to work late. During the review ask him if he has anything else that he had in mind that he wanted you to complete.  Indicate to him the other commitments in your personal life and how you hope to meet them. Have a frank discussion with him/her on how they have been affected because of work.  I am sure he will be more understanding about your work hours thereafter.

In addition to getting an OK from your manager on leaving office once you finish your work, there is an important thing you must to do. If other team members are genuinely struggling with their work you should help them out. After all what are smart team members for?



  1. Burgess, P, “Leading Generation Y”,

Employee Speak: Louie Fernandes. RaLpH, Chief Operating Officer, Optimystix: V2 Issue2

1. How is the entertainment industry getting influenced by the increase in percentage of the Gen Y viewers?

There has been an increase in the Gen Y viewership primarily in the English entertainment and music genres but not necessarily at the same rate in the GEC (General Entertainment Channels).  In the GEC, there has been an increase in viewership within the shoulder time bands (7-8PM and 10PM onwards) of the Gen Y viewers. With the penetration of internet and mobile, these are more attractive time spending options for Gen Y audiences and one can expect these media platforms to see a higher rate of growth in Gen Y audiences.

Broadcasters are now extending their content to mobile and web. With the introduction and subsequent proliferation of 3G and broadband, we see more cannibalization of content created for TV with mobile and internet.


2. When program formats are developed by Optimystix, are any particular elements included to attract and engage Gen Y viewers?

Yes in two ways.  The GEC channels have introduced an interactive element in the programmes like call-ins, SMS, India voting and download sections on their websites to attract younger audiences who believe in influencing the end result. Dancing and comedy genres have introduced content that is focused on competitions where the younger generation wants to play a role in deciding who the winner is.  Forays into mobile content typically attract Gen Y and humor/movie related new content is being created for mobile. You can have a look at some sample content on Expect to see more mobile content created by Optimystix on your mobile screen soon via your mobile operator.


3. According to you what kind of television programs are a hit among Gen Y viewers?


Genres of singing, dancing, comedy and spoofy shows like SET's Comedy Circus are a hit. On niche channels, MTV’s ‘Roadies’ is a show particularly focused towards attracting the young Gen Y audience.


4. How is the entertainment industry getting impacted by the influx of Gen Y workforce?

One would be on generating fresh creative output to meet the objective of different genres of programming. Their biggest impact would be on programs particularly targeted towards the youth, as against creative input they would bring to GEC, focussed on big shiny floor entertainment programs targeted for the entire family.

The impact of Gen Y workforce is significant when creating content targeting the youth itself – youth programming on music channels, gaming industry, mobile, internet and the likes.


5. What according to you is and will be the impact of Gen Y employees on the corporate culture?

The Gen Y workforce tends to focus more on the ‘end’ rather than the ‘means’ to reach an objective.  They also bring in a lot of movement, energy and diversity within the organisation.  At Optimystix we have a healthy mix of people.  Young talent is managed and supervised by experienced talent.  Today our middle management rung consists of young people who have grown in the organisation over the years and have integrated well to create a cohesive culture of the organisation which transcends youthful zeal and enthusiasm with the thoroughness and wisdom of experience.


6. What are the challenges in managing them at the workplace?

A major challenge in managing this hyperactive workforce is discipline and adherence to process.  Control is a challenge.  What works with selling the principles of discipline and process is persistence and presenting the benefits and values of adhering to processes and discipline via real life examples. This generation thinks more off the hip rather than the head.  They are more emotional than calculative and introspective. As managers we need to spend time with them to demonstrate the bigger/macro picture.  They tend to have a myopic view and believe more in shortcuts rather than hard work. With guidance and persistence, we can achieve the desired results.


7. They have global reach and trends across the world reach them in real time - Is their leaning towards India – the country lower therefore?

I wouldn’t say so.  They are globally aware but their connection to India is strong.


8. Any message you would like to share with our readers belonging to the Gen Y?

My message to them is that there is a lot of merit in hard work especially when it’s coupled with an intelligent approach to hard work.  Shortcuts don’t work all the time.  One should take the time to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Focusing on details is important.

Understanding & Managing Generation Y: Feature Article; V2 Issue 2

Understanding and Managing Generation Y

Shubham listens to his ipod and leaves messages for his friends in orkut… all this while he is working at home on his office project. Jagjith who says exactly what he feels about making improvements in the workplace also likes to collaborate with his peers online to find solutions to the technical problems in his project.  Raina attends yoga classes in the mornings. After work in the evenings she volunteers for an NGO. During weekends she treks extensively. Meet the Generation Y! Who are they? Let’s find out!

Who is Generation Y and why should you want to manage them?

Generation Y are those born between 1980 and 2000. They are even called the Millennial Generation, the Internet Generation, the Nintendo Generation, the Digital Generation and the Sunshine Generation. They are the children of active, involved parents and the younger siblings of Gen Xers ie., a generation born from the mid1960s to the late 1970s. With penpals across the world, the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media, they see things as global, connected, and of course open for business 24/7.  And what is important for you is that today they are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. You would be recruiting them from campus. You would be finding replacements for them when they leave your company to join another one. You would be working with them. You need to manage them. And so, you need to know more about them!

Characteristics of Generations Y

Even if you don’t identify them by their age, Generation Y is not very difficult to spot because of the following characteristics which define them:-
1. Confidence: Having been raised by parents believing in the importance of self-esteem, they ooze confidence. Confidence in the way they speak out about issues that bother them, confidence in the way they carry themselves and confidence to tackle any challenge!

2. High expectations from self: They expect to achieve great things and solve problems nobody has solved and do more work, better and faster than anybody else. Sounds familiar?

3. High expectations from others: They also have high expectations from you - their employers and managers. Expectation that you will know their needs, help them succeed and reward them accordingly. They expect you to be honest and direct and fair and highly engaged in every step of their professional development.

4. Optimism: They believe in a bright future which has a special place for them as well. They expect a workplace with all the good things - challenge, collaboration, creativity, fun, and financial rewards. Why do you think they came to work for you?

5. Goal and achievement orientation: They like setting goals, striving for them and achieving them. So don’t be surprised if they arrive first day of work armed with personal goals already defined.

6. Inclusiveness: They are used to being organized in teams and don’t like leaving behind anybody. Workplace diversity is expected by them. They will not hesitate to use their collective power if they feel someone is treated unfairly. 

7. Love for change: Generation Yers don't expect to be doing the same thing tomorrow and day after. Multitasking comes naturally to them. They can juggle between checking e-mail on their Blackberries, talking on cell phones and surfing on the net.

8. Financial smartness: After witnessing the financial insecurity of earlier generations faced by layoffs and the dot-com bust, today's youngest workers are generally quite savvy about money and savings.

9. Need for work life balance: Unlike the earlier generation for whom career tends to come first, generation Yers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility - telecommuting options, part time or long leaves when children or elders need be taken care etc.

10. Sense of civic duty: They believe in doing things for the greater good. They often volunteer for community services. Naturally they expect companies also to contribute to their communities and have environment friendly operations.

11. Total comfort with technology: Having grown up with online social lives, classrooms and entertainment, the virtual world feels to them like a natural extension of their personal experiences. For them, meeting and interacting online is just as comfortable as face-to-face meetings.


By now can you see the behavior patterns among your team members who belong to the generation Y? Now given this unique pattern of behavior would you say the current ways of managing people would work with this generation? Perhaps not!

Managing Generation Y

Here are some of the things which will work with them.

1. As a boss I’ll be pleasant and easy to get along with: The number one rule for managing this highly sociable generation is for you to be sociable with them. Plain business talk with no chitchats will not do.

2. I’ll be your role model:  Having grown up with structure and supervision, with parents who were role models they are looking for role models at work too. This generation is looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. So 'parent' them in ways that will inspire them to utilise their strengths but also manage their weaknesses and set boundaries.

3. You can work with your friends: Generation Y want to work with people they connect with. They like being friends with their colleagues. Did you know some companies are even interviewing and hiring groups of friends because of this? Review them as a group; they enjoy collaborating and being rewarded for the same.

4. I’ll give you challenges: For a breed looking for challenges and lots of learning opportunities this is a statement they would welcome! Give them problems to solve and obstacles to overcome.

5. Here is what you need to do, I am flexible on how you want to do it: With their varied activities, Generation Y expects work to fit into the rest of their life. They don’t believe in face time. Once they are done with their work they will leave office (wow the focus is on output rather than just input!) In order to get the best out of the busiest generation ever it is essential you don’t bind them to a rigid 9 am to 6 pm schedule. Let them work anytime and anywhere while meeting their goals. Also get creative in providing the work/life balance that they crave by offering perks, such as a month sabbatical after some years of service. This offers them time to volunteer for NGOs or pursue a hobby.

6. I’ll be direct with you: Adapt your communication style for them. Gen Y employees speak a different language. They typically respond to humor, passion and the truth. Don’t beat around the bush with this set.

And here are some of the things that won’t work with them.

1. There is nothing much happening now, so chill: Just say this the day they join and they’ll walk out on you right then. Remember they want to start achieving from day 1. Be ready with a task or responsibility no matter how small that you can give the new joinee almost immediately.

2. You are too young to have ideas: Just because they have not been around a long time does not mean you don’t treat their ideas with respect. Don’t be surprised and overwhelmed with the articulate Generation Y’s forthrightness. Don’t try to discount their ideas for lack of experience (they do think outside the box) or throw a wet blanket on their enthusiasm. While an open door policy works well with them, to ensure your work does not get derailed often, tell them to bring you well researched ideas and specific questions.

3. Finish developing this product in 6 months time: This is as good as saying I want to lose your commitment. Gen Yers thrive on small goals with short deadlines so they can build up ownership of tasks. So you better break that project down into smaller pieces. Give them one new task at a time. And please change the type of projects they do every now and then.

4. I’ll give you feedback once in two years: Oh oh this is a sure way to lose them. Gen Y employees want frequent, direct and specific feedback and encouragement. They want their bosses to talk to them regularly just the way their parents did. Even if this means changing your performance appraisal system it is worth it. They become more confident, productive, and willing to use their creative talents when they see that their work is appreciated and receive feedback on how to achieve more.

5. I’ll reward you with just higher compensation: Compensating Gen Y cannot be solely about money. They are seeking training, new challenges, expansion of their capabilities and as a result, advancement to new, more highly compensated roles.


Pampered? Over indulged? Call the Generation Y what you want but you can’t do without this talented generation who are not only your colleagues but are also increasingly your customers and key influencers. Don’t feel threatened by their technical know how. Learn from them instead. Don’t treat them as your enemies but your allies in getting ahead in this increasingly competitive word. For instance considering that they are a generation comfortable with working remotely, leveraging technology and virtual relationships, Gen Y can help you meet your need for global teamwork and flexible work hours.

Come to think of it, creating a better workplace for the generation Y can mean a better workplace for all generations. The earlier generations had just not demanded and expected it like this recent generation does. And the result can be highly desirable - a set of engaged and motivated employees!


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