Are Your Managers Prepared for Gen Y?

I recently watched several documentaries marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. One report revealed that two-thirds of the population were not even born when it happened in 1963. Just think about this fact. The assassination was part of the DNA of a generation, many of whom are managers in mortgage banking today. But for a large group of people, the assassination is a historic event akin to George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. The potential disconnect between generations is projected to be the biggest problem for our industry in the years ahead — bigger than the rollout of Dodd Frank.

As we get closer to 2017 (just 1,000 days from now) when Gen Y will be the largest generation in the country, managers need to be thinking about how they will organize their sales organizations. I know many people think that the most pressing problem is QM regulations but Gen Y as a group has a far wider impact. The generational shift in buyers and employees will be transformational because the younger generation has different values, ideas, ways of communicating and getting things done.

In a New York Times interview last week with Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, a leading marketing software firm, he was asked what his thoughts were about managing Gen Y and I think his comments apply to the mortgage banking industry. Halligan said, “I just think cultures are stuck in the 1990’s and don’t match the way Gen Ys work. For instance, they want to work wherever they can work. They want a ton of freedom. They care less about money and more about learning.”

In a practical sense, the divide is as simple as in the older days workers were the bosses and younger workers did what was asked of them, no questions asked. There were definite rules as to how the boss was treated and how younger workers treated older workers. This is no longer the case. Roles today are all over the place.

Greg Hammill made an excellent analogy in his article, “Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees”: “What happens when a family gets together on a vacation — four generations — you (Boomer); your children (Gen Xers); your grandchildren (Gen Y); your brothers and sisters (Boomers) and your parents (veterans)—all trying to get along. How long does it take before someone mentions ‘the good old days.’ Is that when things get testy?”

Today’s managers must not only be experts in products and programs but must have the talent and insight to manage generational groups who have conflicting work ethics, dissimilar values and idiosyncratic styles. To say that the next generation “does not get it” will not be enough to succeed in this new world.

Are your managers qualified for this challenge? If not, what are you doing to change that?