Lab Manager Academy: Three Reasons You're Failing Gen Y

By Mike Domitrz

Do you get frustrated with the Gen Y’ers in your lab? Do you find them to be lazy, apathetic and self-absorbed? Do you sometimes say to yourself, “Where did this generation’s parents go wrong?”

Good news! Gen Y is as hard working as any generation before. Many managers (maybe even you) are simply failing to understand Gen Y. When you fully grasp how a Gen Y’er views the workplace, you are much more likely to draw incredible results from this generation.

Let’s first examine the three reasons why many mangers fail in working with Gen Y:

1. Perceived apathy and laziness, thus perceived lack of work ethic.

2. Inability to focus.

3. Lack of respect.

Perceived apathy and laziness, thus perceived lack of work ethic

Absolute MYTH! When Gen Y is inspired and loves what he/she is doing, Gen Y is determined, hard working and strong problem solvers. The key wording is “inspired and loves what he/she is doing.” Get to know the Gen Y better so that you fully grasp what aspects of the job he/she finds most fulfilling. Next, emphasize the parts of the job the Gen Y LOVES the most. By doing so, you will be a better manager.

Did you know Gen Y’ers appreciate caring relationships and being valued? Family is much more important to Gen Y than the past few generations before. Create a family atmosphere at work. The tighter the work family, the more a Gen Y will want to work harder.

You are not in a factory of the past where people thought, “Come to your place of work and focus solely on your job.” Personal connections count today. Gen Y connects tightly with those who CARE about the WHOLE person. In addition to what happens during work, show interest and appreciation for what Gen Y does in his/her personal life. Remember they love FaceBook because it keeps them in touch with their family and friends. Bonding counts!

Inability to focus

Can you text, hold a conversation and solve a problem on your computer all at one time? Gen Y can! Your Gen Y colleague has the ultimate concept of focus—being able to be so skilled at utilizing tools that he/she can multi-task—which clearly requires an ability to focus quickly in multiple directions. Instead of thinking, “Gen Y doesn’t focus,” what about asking yourself, “How can I best utilize this colleague’s ability to multi-task?”

Lack of respect

Who is disrespecting who? Anytime a leader says to me, “My people don’t respect me,” I instantly want to ask, “Why should they?” How are you role modeling respect? Are you seeing the Gen Y for all the gifts he/she currently brings to your lab? Are you voicing your gratitude for their talents? If someone doesn’t feel respected, what are the odds the person is going be in the mood to be GIVING respect?

When you decide to no longer be frustrated with Gen Y but instead take the time to learn about Gen Y, you may be surprised by how much better of a leader Gen Y is going to teach you to become now and in the future. Just like parents of 20 years ago, “because I said so” doesn’t work today. YOU need to be better!

Published In

Budgeting 101 Magazine Issue Cover
Budgeting 101

Published: January 18, 2012

Cover Story

Budgeting 101

Tips for managing your laboratory research dollars.