Generation Y, X, or Boomer – it doesn’t matter

18.07.2011 0

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been delivering programs and projects with the help of Generation Y team members.  As any PM knows, a happy team means that team members are more willing to put in a little extra effort, and when it comes time to launch the next project, members generally look forward to the challenges.

Experience and training can help a PM be a better leader and I have spent a lot of time trying to learn the “secret” of motivating my teams but really it gets down to this – I can assign meaningful work that plays to their strengths, and create scenarios for team building exercises, but real motivation comes from the individual and its up to me to understand how to tap into it.

I recently had a great opportunity to ask one of my staff about what makes him tick and the answers were really intriguing.  To put his experience into context – it helps to know that he’s in his mid 20’s, active, educated and has had increasing levels of responsibility in his job roles.  He said:

  • His primary goals are not financial.
  • He wants continual growth opportunities
  • He wants to see changes take place immediately

He says that although financial status is not a prime motivator, there’s a desire to be more financially comfortable.  At the same time he says he’s driven by a job that offers lifestyle, flexibility, challenges and the direction he wants.

My role as a motivator then is to look for opportunities in the projects I’m running and assign him to activities that provide growth opportunities.  I think this is really important and I’ve discovered talking to my peers in other organizations that Gen Y turnover can be really high.  My staff member told me that he wants to transition out of a job the minute it becomes “just a pay cheque.”

So not every role has continual growth, change can take forever before there’s a new direction.  There has to be other factors at work that keep Gen Y motivated.  This is what I meant earlier about “tapping into” what motivates the team member and its unique to the individual.  Informally polling my coworkers — motivation really is about having fundamental personal needs being met.  If this holds true, then my role as a leader is to help my Gen Y team achieve their personal goals.  I think this sentiment holds true regardless whether you’re Gen Y, X or a Boomer.

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