The Mysteries of Motivating Young People

businessmotivation-684x420A question I am asked on numerous occasions is “how do you motivate these young people today?” It seems as though some mature (I don’t like using the word old!!) business owners/managers struggle with this on an ongoing basis. The question of motivation is an interesting one that I’ll cover in a later blog, but let’s look at the wonderful world of Gen Y.

Currently Gen Y, or millennials as they are often called, make up 50% of the workforce and are closely followed by Gen Z’s who are just starting to hit the workforce as well. Often cited as being lazy, and the want it now generation, I believe they have a huge amount to offer if lead well.

Research from McKinsey & Company has identified that Gen Y’s want recognition more than money and what motivates them is continuing to learn and grow. I’ve heard the comments from the older generation “they want to be the boss in 5 minutes.” Well if this is the case then help them get there!!

I was lucky enough to be at a presentation by Avril Henry, an international keynote speaker and leadership expert, where she shared her top tips on motivating Gen Y. Not surprisingly, based on the above, its Leadership, money is not in the top two.

Gen Y’s top three motivators were:
  • Inspiring leadership – they want to work for someone who loves what they do
  • Supportive work environment – that is positive, encourages learning, listens to us and shares technology
  • They want to be Mentored and Coached – by cool older people who like and respect young people.

McKinsey and Company’s research also backed this up. They found Gen Y’s want praise from managers, leadership attention and project leadership. These three factors are more powerful motivators than financial incentives.

In retail we employ a huge amount of the younger generation, for their flexibility to work varying hours and lower hourly rates. I have come across awesome Gen Y’s (as well as Gen X’s and Baby Boomers) and a fair share of the same groups with challenging attitudes and questionable work ethic. In my opinion it’s not so much generational issues, its attitude issues – it’s finding the right staff with a positive attitude, willingness to learn and being open to feedback.

My challenge to owners and managers of Gen Y’s is to get good at delegating. Gen Y’s want to learn so give them new challenges, daily if possible. Send them to training courses, help them to get better educated, this is what they want. I know you might be worried if you spend time and money on them they might leave, but what if you don’t and they stay!!

Managing teams is harder these days, in the old days we were just told what to do and almost everyone stayed in the one job all their life. Those days are well and truly over, so if you want positive, motivated staff then invest in them.

If you don’t, all that talent will just walk away and they might end up at your competitor.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.