Play Nice with Others: How to Work with Generation Y

This is a guest post from Matt Cheuvront and is part of the Guest Blog Grand Tour over at Life Without Pants. Want to learn more about Matt Cheuvront & see how far the rabbit hole goes? Subscribe to the Life Without Pants RSS feed & follow him on Twitter to keep in touch!

Greetings from an over-entitled, conceited, Generation Y know-it-all! Nice to meet you , I’m the twenty-four year old guy on your team that Bossman just brought on board and you’re not quite sure how to work with¦

I get it , I understand that Generation Y gets a bad rep. We’re not willing to settle , we are habitual askers of “why” and we always want our work to have meaning , and yes, sometimes we think we’re smarter than you and don’t give you enough credit where credit is due. But hey, maybe we deserve a little respect as well.

Inter-office politics are never fun , I’ve seen my fair share of drama and gossip in the workplace, even in my short term in the “career world”. It can get ugly, even uglier when you don’t take time to understand what your team wants and needs, and how to best get everyone working on the same bandwagon together.

For what it’s worth , I’m here to help , I’m here to tell you that all youngin’s like me aren’t that bad , that we can bring a lot to the table , but we want you to bring just as much. Here are three MAJOR points to focus on when working with the Generation Y community.

Stop stifling our creativity

Four words: Micromanagement sucks, encourage innovation. People my age want meaningful work , we want something we can invest our all into. The minute you start breathing down our neck , the minute your stop trusting us to do good work , is the minute that trust is breached and the creative juices come to a screeching halt. This isn’t so much a Generation Y thing as it is an “everyone” thing. When you hire someone , you hire someone assuming you can trust them to do their job, right? So what’s the point in hand-holding and micromanaging every step of the way? Loosen the reigns a bit and, until you have to, give your team some freedom to think creatively, set goals, and meet them on their own.

We want to learn from you

We’re young, we’re brash, and we think we know everything. Well heads up , we don’t. Not at all. And to top it all off , we actually want to learn from you. Generation Y (speaking collectively here) is hungry for knowledge , we read , we blog , we network with others, and for what? To learn – challenging ourselves to try new things and think in new ways. So when you bring us on board, you’ve got to be willing to help us learn. Not only will it help someone like me mature and grow into the role , it will help you by developing your team , setting them up for long term success. Don’t shrug us off as know-it-alls, be open to helping your younger team members learn and grow.

We’re the same as you

Really , I get tired of hearing that Generation Y is so different , that we are the ones who want meaningful work, wanting to be trusted and craving freedom. Come on…that isn’t Generation Y, that’s everyone. This post isn’t even about Gen Y (are you starting to get it now?) , it’s about effectively running any business with any demographic. The number one way to build a successful business is to establish outstanding relationships , both internally and with your clients/customers. And every relationship starts with trust. You trust me , I trust you , and we all live happily ever after.

What thoughts do you have about Generation Y in the workplace? Do you have any examples from experience?


  1. I totally agree. Who doesn’t want to find meaning and purpose in what they do? No one wants to go into a job that they hate everyday and finding what you do important is the first step in loving your work.

    Thanks Matt, you hit the nail on the head.

  2. As someone who spends his time helping members of all generations work and play well with others, I am very pleased to have Matt share his Gen Y point of view on how to “play nice” with Gen Y. In fact, Matt’s point of view on all subjects is so insightful that I featured him on my other site: in a separate post:

  3. Maybe Gen Y has such a bad rap because they recycle the same blog posts so frequently?

  4. Thanks for the comment, Tim. Another way to look at it is that blog posts with recurring themes may indicate areas that are really important to Gen Y which are not be addressed by employers.

  5. Or they’re topics posted by Gen Y’ers in a continuing effort to fit in and meet the Gen Y status quo?

    For all the complaining Gen Y does about being categorized as such, we sure do a lot to make sure people do so…

    Just my two cents :)

  6. Fellow Mellenial here. You really hit the nail on the head. Its not about what generation your from but as you said “it’s about effectively running any business with any demographic, establish outstanding relationships and building trust.”

    As a Gen Y’er we have no fear and we do want to learn as much as we can. Just know we process and take in the information in a much different way. We are trial and error. We are benchmark and improve. We are remember the old school but cant wait to see the next innovation.

    Roll reversal from your example with my situation. I was the young guy that became boss.

    As a 28 year old I was a district manager for 10 hair salons. The only experience I had in the industry was in marketing-Regional Marketing Manager for 3 years. I had always worked in more of a corporate environment. I then transitioned to a district manager when my position was eliminated.

    Anyways, I was managing stylists that ranged from 19 years old to 60+ years old. Backgrounds from all over this world, with various socioeconomic situations. Im a 28 year old white guy from the burbs with a college degree and my parents never got divorced. I had a “normal” life growing up..

    To say the least, the challenge at hand was going to be a tough one. The only women I ever had to deal with was my mom and wife-two was enough! I was about to embark on an entirely new situation.

    It was all about communication, trust, and relationship building. This was the basis for how I led over 150 stylist to be successful. I had to build credibility, show I was a good leader and that I could be trusted.

    My position was not about how old I was or the lack of experience that I had but how I could relate, learn, connect and deliver on my word to a large group of individuals that had various backgrounds. And ultimately have everyone trust that I knew what I was doing…because I did!

    We are all the same. We can learn allot from each other. Communication and trust are keys to any relationship.

    It took time to build trust. It took time to build credibility. It took time to learn to connect in so many various ways with so many various types of people. So if this Gen Y’er can do it and be successful, then why in the hell can’t you?

    Now go and play nice

  7. @ Jessica – Thanks! It really is less about Generation Y and more along the lines of “we are all in this together” – There is this “segregation” of our Generation which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me – we’re younger, but other than that, not so much different in our career needs and wants.

    @Tim – Your comment here offers no substance and your criticism of the “recycled” blog post has nothing to do with the topic. John makes a good point – this may have been said before but I take a unique approach in saying that we really AREN’T that different to “work with”. Also, I don’t see you you claim this to be a “complaint” – rather, it’s a post on how we should all be working together, instead of complaining and dividing ourselves into groups. If you want to debate the topic, I’m more than happy to – but to debate the quality of the post doesn’t really present anything constructive, does it?

    @Joe – thanks for the comment. It sounds like you were presented with quite the challenge but did a lot to overcome it. Cheers!

    @John – I’ll go ahead and say “thanks for having me”!

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