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Workplace Behaviour Reflective Journal

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MOTIVATING GENERATION Y'ERS IN THE WORKPLACE Reflective Journal on Motivating Generation Y'ers in the Workplace Introduction 'If only our employees were motivated, then we'd get the results we need.' How many times have you heard a similar statement at work? Effective management generally entails the creation, development and maintenance of an environment in which individuals in an organization work together to accomplish common organizational goals. To achieve this, a manager needs to know how to motivate people to perform. Ideally, organizational roles, the staffing of those roles and the entire process of leadership must be built on the knowledge of motivation (Koontz & Weihrich, 1988). Zimmerman (1988) further reiterates that an organization cannot effectively achieve its mission without motivating its personnel towards the achievement of its set goals. Thus, employee motivation is imperative to the success of any organization. What is motivation? Reece and Brandt (2008, p.161) defines motivation as 'the influences that account for the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior'. Motivation, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult pieces in the management puzzle. Over the last five years, my department has seen an influx of younger generation employees whose needs, expectations and values are markedly different from the existing staff who belong to an earlier generation. The traditional 'tried and tested' methods of motivation no longer worked for everyone. As a manager and a team member, I agree that motivation is key to employee performance but after a few years in the trenches, trying to develop, reward, and improve staff performance, I began grabbing for any old bit of the motivational jigsaw and in frustration, attempted to jam ill-suited pieces into place at times. The lecture by Dr Jo Pryce on Motivating Yourself and Others was timely as it has helped me to re-examine myself and my understanding of human behavior in terms of motivation and put me in a better position to address this issue in my workplace. ...read more.


In Theory Y, managers assume employees may be ambitious, self-motivated, exercise self-control and they enjoy their mental and physical work duties. Thus, given the right conditions, most employees will want to do well at work. Given the social, educational, and political desirability of Theory Y, one would think that this is the assumption that any organization or manager would hold. My experience suggests that this is not the case. The organization I work for has a hierarchical structure with a limited span of control at each level consistent with Theory X assumptions. While the mission statement and values of my organization espouse Theory Y, many of the practices are geared toward the 'soft' Theory X. To illustrate, all staff members are required to log into a computer system upon arrival and at the end of the day. Regardless of their teaching schedules, they are expected to be in the office before nine and leave after five. Another common practice amongst managers is to keep detailed and dated records of unsatisfactory performance or non compliance of their charges for review during staff appraisals. Such Theory X 'controls' were of no issue to the older employees as it was an extension of our own work values. Yet, the Generation Y'ers found them unacceptable, inflexible and draconian. At a personal level, my own style swings from Theory X to Theory Y and vice versa depending on whom I dealt with, the circumstance and the task at hand. This is supported by Campbell and Swift (2006) who found evidence that managers differ in whether they make internal or external attributions for good and bad performance, depending on whether the employee is an in-group member or not. It is possible that managers have a Theory Y mindset with respect to in-group members and a Theory X mindset with respect to out-group members and engage in correspondingly different managerial behaviors. ...read more.


Mentoring / Reverse Mentoring Program Second, I would like to revive the mentoring program. According to Bryce (2008), mentoring is starting to experience a resurgence as companies find it to be an effective approach for developing employees and promoting teamwork. Thus, implementing an effective mentoring program would help the younger people make the transition into the corporate culture and build stronger ties with their older counterparts. In addition, Raines (2002) suggests the setting up of a reverse mentoring program so that the older employees can tap on the Generation Y'ers' technological capability and expertise. Such a program would definitely benefit the older staff as many of us would love to incorporate technology such as podcasts, RSS feeds and blogs into our lessons but may not know how to. In addition, it would provide a platform for the older staff to understand the mindset, norms and values of the Generation Y'ers and help to foster greater understanding and camaraderie between the two groups. Conclusion A Chinese proverb states, "For every hundred men hacking away at the leaves of a diseased tree, only one man stoops to inspect the roots." As managers, we are often busy tackling symptoms of organizational problems rather than seeking out their causes. We should stoop to inspect the roots. The lack of motivation is an important cause of work-related problems. With the changing environment and diverse workforce, the solutions to motivation problems are becoming even more complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly (Bowen & Radhakrishna, 2001). Each generation requires a different set of standards to motivate them at work. The challenge for organizations is to create an environment that meets the needs of all employees, regardless of the generation to which they belong. I believe that in order for an organization to be truly successful, all co-existing generations in the workplace need to understand and value each other, even when their perspectives and goals are vastly different. ...read more.

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