Generation Y May Lack Leadership Skills

A research project into the potential management abilities of Generation Y – the children born in the 80s and 90s – has thrown up some startling findings.

A big surprise is despite a sophisticated education and lifestyle, they lack life skills and experience which will affect the ability of future leaders to make decisions and judge risk effectively.

That’s if any potential leaders actually make that far, say managers.

The research was undertaken by the UK’s Ashridge Business School, which asked 2,900 managers and graduates aged under 30 around the world for their thoughts about Gen Y.

The biggest concern for managers is employee retention because Gen Y brings higher expectations to their work, while looking for new challenges with fast promotion to more responsible managerial positions. They also want to make changes rather than develop their skills and adapt to an organisation.

Their unmet expectations then prompt the search for another role.

Hard to manage

Managers in Malaysia say they spend two-thirds of their time in managing the expectations of Gen Y employees.

The report, Culture Shock!, also highlights that graduates in Europe, the Middle East, India, China and Malaysia are very similar people.

However, their managers see work from very different perspective.

Gen Y tends to get on with their immediate line managers, but see those higher up as unwilling to make the changes they want.

However, while Gen Y employees are recognised as intelligent and driven, managers can see them as too self-focused, over confident, lacking respect and without team skills.

Managers also describe them as digitally integrated, socially aware, unconventional and confident.

Frequent job changes by many Gen Y employees has led to managers fearing the next generation will not provide experienced leaders because they have no real in-depth experience in the jobs they take.

Different priorities

The desire by Gen Y employees for fame and recognition was also disliked by many managers.

An Ashridge spokesman said: “We are talking about a generation that has lived with X Factor, Facebook and mobile phones.

“Against this background of rapidly changing technology, political and cultural standards means that Gen Y has different priorities from other generations.

“As a result, Gen Y is quickly changing employment practice around the world and this growing workforce is challenging the traditional models within companies.

“Those companies will have to find ways of adapting themselves and working better with Gen Y who have unique contributions and strengths to create a better workforce for the future.”