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Generation Y

Onboarding Gen Y College Grads: Channeling New Values, Energy, Enthusiasm

Today’s typical Gen Y college grad yearns to make a difference in your business and beyond. How will you embrace, nurture and channel their confidence, energy, enthusiasm and academic achievement into helping them achieve your goals and theirs? Commencement speeches reflect a generational evolution in values over the past 40 years.

Today’s typical Gen Y college grad yearns to make a difference in your business and beyond. How will you embrace, nurture and channel their confidence, energy, enthusiasm and academic achievement into helping them achieve your goals and theirs?

Commencement speeches reflect a generational evolution in values over the past 40 years.

Boomers were exhorted to use their education and hard work to “get ahead” financially; their focus has been on salary, stock options, titles, stature and authority. Gen Y is encouraged to their defining professional accomplishment as living a “meaningful” professional life; their focus is on passion and altruism.

This evolution further reflects a change in expectations and how post-boomers view work, due in large part to technology. Previous generations kept their work life separate from their personal life. Today, our personal and professional lives are intertwined by 24/7 connections driven by our smart devices.

New graduates are leaving school charged up, and it’s our job as employers to connect their hearts and minds to our organizations.

They need space to grow and contribute positively to your organization by keeping your organization forward thinking and healthy with regard to operations as well as its place in the larger community. It’s important to understand that they think differently. How you take them in will be different than how you have on-boarded others.

Here are a few thoughts about how to help them overcome the challenges they face when entering your organization:

HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THE COMPANY

I’m talking about how it’s organized, how it works, how different business units fit into the big picture. A little guidance about the “puzzle pieces” will give them a footing and encourage them to branch out and learn more about business units and functions across the company.

Creating multiple touch points in the company for ongoing support through their transition period helps new recruits create relationships that integrate them more quickly and more deeply engage them. Examples: managers who carve out time to work with their newest team members; colleagues who have successfully transitioned from college to the workforce and are willing to mentor these new grads; and formal training sessions that help reinforce and embed key information.

HELP THEM DEVELOP THEIR IDEAS

These young enthusiasts will no doubt have some fresh ideas. Guide them in how to think through and critically assess their ideas. Mentor them in how to own and shepherd their ideas. Help them determine how to create meaningful conversation for presenting their ideas. And most important, recognize their ideation efforts to encourage more creative ideas. What gets recognized gets repeated.

Nix language that represses future expression of new ideas: “not a good idea,” “tried it before; didn’t work,” “no one here will listen,” and the ever rampant “yes but.”

CREATE A BALANCE BETWEEN AUTONOMY AND COLLABORATION

Provide tools, support and expectations; then get out of their way. This does not mean desertion. Frequently scheduled feedback will help new recruits “learn the ropes” and help them grow.

Take the first step towards your future.

Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?