Introduction There are quite a large number of characteristics that are unique about Gen Y. They stand out for their regularity of thought and action. Their patterns of behavior. And what have you? In the process of correctly understanding them, we need to a) Understanding their basic patterns of behavior b) Understand their aspirations and ambitions c) Engage them and not Advice them d) Convince them about future responsibilities and e) Helping them see far beyond the immediate gratification of all wants.
Understanding their basic patterns of behavior The Generation Y, Gen Y for short throughout this article, is an impulsive and rather impatient generation. This is the "here and now" generation. Largely found in the metro and big cities of India, they are never satisfied with the status quo. They never believe in the old concepts of fate and at least fifty percent of them are atheists. They always question any ritual or custom or even family practices. If there is a religious festival going on, except in a few families where the joys of a joint family are recognized and celebrated at least once a year in a huge ancestral home in some village and people come together from all over the world, the Gen Y would be conspicuous by their absence. They are somewhat practical and not emotional at all. They are highly commercial but this does not mean that they chase jobs only for money. The reason why products from the two best B schools -- the IIM at Ahmedabad and the Indian School of Business (ISB) hate the core production jobs and join only start-ups. The joy and the thrill of being empowered and being able to take independent decisions and creating profits and a future for the business with an "intrapreneurial" spirit, that is, as internal entrepreneurs, is too good to be part of everyone's psyche. Contrary to public opinion, they are not totally inhuman. They do have a soft side and do a bit of donation for good causes. After a while of slogging out, this author knows two IIMA products who are totally into creative education products, that are actually not-so-highly-profit oriented products. The urge to serve society is seen in these people. They would not like any reference ( even indirect) and hence no attempt is made to describe their businesses. Yet, observation of their behavior fits the general trend. They do not listen to any advice. They would do their own thing. Foreign holidays are a must. If their parents want to stay in old age homes, they happily put them there, but ensure that they pump in maximum money to ensure that their physical comforts are taken care of. Some aspects of the behavior of Gen Y have also been discussed in a recent article. how-to-make-others-say-this- guy-or-woman-is-awesome-everyday.aspx
Understand their aspirations and ambitions As already mentioned above, they are very impatient and want to change the status quo. They are ready to put in 16 hour work days for five days a week but then sleep the same amount of time or a little less on the weekends!! The weekly visit to the multiplexes to watch movies, spend lavishly on eating out in the best of restaurants, "try out" new dishes and even experiment with cooking that at home, are common behaviors. Husbands and wives are very much like friends and at least 60% are love marriages, inter-caste, inter-caste, inter-religion and even international since they marry foreign nationals too. Implicit in their joint ambition to make it big and since the IIMA/IIT/NIT/ISB crowd enjoy salaries that exceed three lakh rupees between them (post-tax), they lead luxurious lives. This author has heard so much about "creating the future". His own is one of this tribe. Their network is so good. They change their jobs after being interviewed by the prospective boss. Since they are so high potential, the interviews are held in cozy environs of five-star hotels over dinner and everything is worked out in detail. This is exactly why the start-ups are making money. The cream of India is here and they get to do wonders in an atmosphere of hard work, superb planning, and execution. Their CEO ambitions and entrepreneurial ambitions need to be duly recognized. Their luxuries are not the ordinary middle-class kind.
Engage them and not Advise them Even if their own elder brothers need to communicate to them, it is wise to choose only weekends. Parents should never advise them. Engaging them means getting things done after going a long mile in their own ways. For instance, if they narrate some story about how they spent their time abroad, it is wise to ask them to open their laptops and describe in great detail every single place and the selfies taken in so many places. This will please them no end. No leading questions. A free discussion centered around only their experiences. Not your observation about those places. No expert comments. Only when the base is set, can anyone communicate with them anything. For instance, if the boy had already married his lady love after six years, he would expect the same in his sister's case too. Parents who would be keen on an arranged marriage for their daughters would have a torrid time in convincing their sons in such cases. The only way is to travel the extra mile in conversation and then slowly open the entire thing. They would never listen to any advice. However, after the first decade is over and the boy or girl is 33, they tend to slow down a bit and are engaged in bringing up their children. This becomes a mess and the role of elders is very crucial, in nuclear families. In some cases, the aunts and sisters or brothers live in the same city. Those the man and woman do not like anyone visiting their homes, they are forced to take the help of everyone in times of need in the first 36 months of the child's growth. Those with CEO ambitions go through hell during this time, as the way to the top is never smooth. It is very lonely at the top, even if they get to head particular functions like Supply Chain Management. Huge responsibilities at home force them to be more flexible in their emotional behaviors. They tend to treat their parents better during this period. In cases where the bonding is so good, the parents do not have any problem in this regard. Engaging them is a very delicate art. It comes with experience.
Prod them to think about future responsibilitiesOf late, there are certain positive improvements. Those with global exposure and a down-to-earth attitude, learn that they cannot spend like there is no tomorrow. They become a bit wiser and start saving for their future. When their wives are husbands are down with a serious ailment, reality hits them very hard. They become very responsible and seek the help of others. In some families where the boy is very close to the mother, the task becomes a bit simpler. The future responsibilities, like his part in getting his sister married, are clearly explained by the mother. In a particular case, an ordinary mother, who was just a matriculate, was able to make a big impression on her son, a CEO in a good start-up at Bangalore, to give up his quota of booze gradually and quit it totally. Her hand holding was superb. She would know his weakness for going down memory lane. Her close friends would come calling and recall the early days. He was a good blog writer and kept writing on a variety of his stories. It somehow made him realize what he missed. His mother totally changed him. Such instances only teach us that a huge amount of patience is required in this respect.
Helping them see far beyond the immediate gratification of all wants This is easier said than done. For example, the guy referred to above, had a weakness for the most costly cars. None of his cars was more than 24 months old. He would pump a huge amount of money into cars. However, once when the business was not doing so well, he had to reduce expenses on petrol and did it grudgingly. His father explained to him that he could continue with the car for a longer time and not incur more expenditure. This also happened when his blog writing became more intense. One would have to wait for the time to do something. It is a big ask. We all need to understand this.
ConclusionUnderstanding the growing new generation, called Gen Y, is a big task. Their needs, aspirations, and ambitions are totally different. One does need a good deal of patience. Only some dimensions have been taken up for discussion above. They are fairly indicative, but not exhaustive.