Ty Richardson began his career as an expert on generational differences when he wrote his dissertation on the differences between Generation X and Generation Y’s perceptions of the customer service experience. Now the founder and CEO of YoPro Global, a worldwide network for young professionals, Richardson sat down with the Charlotte Observer to discuss millennials and Gen Y in the workplace.
QUESTION: How do you define Gen Y or millennials? Do you use specific birth years? What do they all have in common and why?
ANSWER: Generation Y can be divided into two segments: Gen Y (1980-1989) and millennials (1990-2000). This is largely driven by the fact that although a generation spans 20 years, this particular generation had several events that defined their formative years and the older part of Gen Y have very different experiences than the later part due to technology and globalization that made the world a smaller place, connected people, and showcased events that ordinarily would not have affected them.
As a generation, they all experienced an era of technology, as opposed to previous generations for whom technology was optional; globalization; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; and parents who were closely involved in every step of their children’s lives.
Q: What advice do you have for Gen Y entrepreneurs?
A: Remember, the employees you hire aren’t the same as you. Although Gen Y is a generation that embraces diversity and cultures, the working habits and styles of older generations can cause a challenge for Gen Y entrepreneurs. Take some time to study and learn emotional intelligence, leadership and team-building.
Q: What advice do you have for people managing Gen Y employees?
A: Gen Y employees just emerged from what I like to call “an incubator for life.“ School was a place that they were told what to do, where to go and when to deliver. They also had the privilege of being involved in planning the family vacation, being friends with the president on Facebook, and starting successful businesses at 16 years old.
They consider themselves able to succeed in any environment. While they crave mentorship and advice, they believe they can give it as well as take it and that both should be fair. Understand that they will give unvarnished feedback. In turn, they will welcome it from genuine and authentic leaders and respect you for it. Treat them as equals; coach, don’t manage.
Q: What advice do you have for people selling to Gen Y customers?
A: Gen Y customers value authenticity and genuineness. Your brand must connect with their values of integrity and being real. In the age of the Internet, access is readily available. Ensure your employees know about your products and services and deliver a great experience, because a bad one will be heard by all, especially with the common use of social media.
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur“ and the founder of the social shopping website CartCentric.com. Email her at TheJennieWonggmail.com.