We hear it in our sessions all the time, and the other day, I heard it on a drama series – ‘the new generation just thinks that they can get to the top very quickly’. This perception of Gen Ys – is it valid? And, if yes, then what’s wrong with it?
Are Gen Ys different than previous generations?
Part of the question is whether or not Gen Ys are really different than previous generations in regard to their desire to move up quickly. It is true that perhaps Baby Boomers and Gen Xers (certainly Traditionalists) had a more realistic understanding of the corporate ladder than Gen Ys. However, out of fairness to Gen Ys, the dot-com and subsequent Internet era has given them a lot of examples of younger people becoming founders and senior leaders very early. Also, they have grown up in a society, school system and home life, where they have been told that they can do and be anything that they want to be. So why not CEO after 6 months?
Leaders need to embrace this perspective when faced with it. Isn’t is better to have someone with ambition than not? What is important is that a leader is capable of managing those expectations when faced with them. Your organization’s performance management system should assist you in being able to describe the competencies required in order to be deemed high-performing. Those competencies would be rated along a proficiency scale of both quality level required as well as frequency of performing the task. The science of performance management helps to manage the expectations.
Connecting through conversations
If you have a high—performing employee who has high expectations of rapid career growth – there are two other considerations. If s/he is truly performing – why not move them into the new position? Age should not be the deterring factor as the sole basis. On the other hand, there may be the belief or fact that more experience is required. In that case, you have to set up meetings or discussions with colleagues in that desired role who can describe the various experiences that they have had that make them better suited or prepared for the role in which they are. Gone are the days that a leader can simply say ‘you are just not ready yet’ without having back-up to prove that statement.