Generation Y as managers

One of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on recently was a study for the Chartered Management Institute on understanding young managers at work.  The report, which is published tomorrow, shakes out some of the myths about young workers as ambitious fly-by-night – well, they’re certainly ambitious and impatient, but you still need to know far more than someone’s age to predict what motivates them in career terms.  

I’m not sure I can quite manage liveblogging tomorrow’s report launch, but I will be writing a few pieces here sparked off by the discussions are around the table tomorrow. It should be interesting.


5 Responses

  1. Alison
    I would really like to connect on the phone about the research project. I am a consultant and have a blog at
    Let me know best days and times
    Jeanne Meister

  2. Hello,

    I’m a student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m currently working on an honors thesis about generation y and their motivations. I hope that I’m not being too forward, but I read some of your articles on generation y in the workplace and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions. I’m writing you for two reasons, not only because I simply wanted some input on which direction to take my thesis, but also because it is part of an assignment for my thesis writing class here at school. So, I apologize for the rashness, but since there is a relative time sensitivity to this message, I will just ask my questions now. They are basically these: How do you think career choices reflect the mindset of a gen y’er?And also, if you were in my shoes and trying to discover the motivations of gen y’ers, where would you start?

    I would like to also thank you for the writing that you have done on this subject. It has been very insightful and helpful to me through this process and quite frankly, I think if I hadn’t stumbled on to it, I’d be completely lost right now.

    Thank you.
    Erica Taylor
    Oglethorpe University Class of 2011

    • Hi Erica, apologies for the delay in replying. Those are interesting questions and rather difficult ones, too.

      The second question is easier: just look for surveys done on generational attitudes. There are quite a number in the public domain. Where you start looking rather depends on the discipline that you’re in (for example, whether it’s psychology, management, HR or whatever).

      Generation Y is basically a nickname for a cohort effect – so, what are the aspects of being in this cohort (as opposed to simply being 20-something) that affect your life choices. I would say that there is a difference in gen y attachment to a job, in the sense that people can be very loyal provided they feel respected, but they can be very short term. In terms of wider career choices, I’m not sure. You have a greater and greater sense of self-actualisation (‘I can live my dreams, be whover I want to be’) coupled with stern reality testing.

      You’d also be wise to think critically about Gen Y as a construct. Does it hang together? Is it any more meaningful than alternative explanations for choices, such as gender, income and social class? Personally, I think the value is in being very specific – it can turn into a real catch-all concept and you need to be wary.

  3. Dear Dr. Alison,
    we posted a link to your fantastic report on our website.
    Thanks for this great piece of work!

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