There is a lot of scuttlebutt about managing multi-generations in the workforce today.

Yet, I wonder if it’s any different, or more challenging than previous eras. I mean, hiring and managing the flower children of the 60s that transitioned into the workplace in the early 70s couldn’t have been a picnic for traditional business owners, right?

Yes, this younger generation may have shorter attention spans, a greater need to be stroked, expect bigger opportunities earlier than they are earned, but I don’t believe this is the norm, or has to be an employers’ experience.

In my work, coaching owners of small businesses to improve attitudes, motivation and performance in the workplace I’ve heard my share of “it’s hard to find good, hard working employees today. Everyone has an entitlement mentality.”

If that’s one’s experience, I believe it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy created by the approach to the hiring process.

Recently two of my clients hired young generation employees, ages 24 and 19, respectively.

They have great attitudes, work hard, want to learn and get better to earn their opportunity. Most of all, they appreciate the present opportunity they’ve been provided.

It has been my experience that most of the trouble with underperforming employees stems from the business owners’ poor communication, plus their failure to develop and then articulate clear performance standards and expectations.

Whoever joins the staff, regardless of the generation they represent, needs these clear, specific job performance standards and expectations. In many small businesses (under 250 employees), these are severely lacking.

No wonder most employers complain about underperforming personnel. Yet, it is not the employees’ fault.

In too many organizations I find employers, mostly the small business owners I coach, abdicating the responsibility of performance management, mainly because they don’t know how to do it right and are uncomfortable with it. So, they do it on the fly hoping things will change next time.

It never does. They eventually find me to help them.

In both of these clients, we did extensive work last year creating a new approach to leading the company, designing the desired culture and what it looks and feels like, and communicating with employees prior to, during, and after the hiring process.

Today, they are reaping the benefits of new, young employees eager to learn, contribute, and grow with the company.

But, they didn’t just get lucky; they changed how they were communicating.

There is something funny about this new generation in the workplace, though, that is being ignored by the older generations in charge of managing and leading them.

They are human beings, not space aliens. They are motivated by the traditional human motivation strategies I wrote about in this blog a couple of weeks ago (Human Motivation Equation).

If business owners believe that and take it to heart, they will start treating the new hires of the youngest generation in the workplace in a way that will tap into their strengths and interests.

Then, they will have dedicated, hard working, creative team members long into the future.

Give it a shot. If you need help you know where to find me.