Helping Gen Ys To Become The International Managers Of The Future

p050-053-ABS#33-International-Business-1By Barry Thomas.

According to Future Workplace it is estimated that by 2025, Gen Y workers will account for 75 percent of the workforce. Indeed, Gen Ys are set to becomethe international leaders of the future and are therefore a critical talent pool forglobalorganisations to coach and mentor. Gen Ys are increasingly moving towards managerial roles and to support this, it is imperative that organisationsand senior managersareincorporating appropriate succession planning strategies to groom this emerging generation of workers.

When referring toGenYs, it broadly includes people who were born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Importantly, this timeframe encompassessignificant technological advancements which have impacted the way that international businessis conducted – most notably the ubiquitous use of the internet and improvedtravel accessibility and flight paths.

Each Gen Y employee contributes a unique set of skills and characteristics to the global workforce. However, we are seeing distinct trends amongst Gen Y employees which impact the way they conduct international business. This includes beingtechnologically advanced, well-connected, ambitious,well-travelled, open minded, flexible, confident and conscious about what their peers thinkabout them.

We also need to considerunique Gen Y trends and social influences in individual markets. For example, Gen Ys who grew up in Asiademonstrate different work related preferences and expectations to those who grew up in Australia or Europe. This is usually attributed to the differing cultural and economic conditions experienced while growing up. In China, the one child policy may have impacted Gen Ys and their professional interactions. Whereas in Greece and Ireland, the global financial crisis has affected job security and we have seen a recent influx of Gen Ys from these countries seeking international job opportunities.

If you are refiningyour organisational succession plan to groom the international leaders of the future,here are some key considerations to incorporate in your Gen Y talent management strategy:

Be Flexible

Gen Ys, no matter where they are located, value flexibility in the workplace. For them, having a good work/life balance is important and feedbackalso suggests that they prefer flat working structures. A working day for a Gen Y is less about appearing to be busy from nine to five, and more about achieving results.In light of this, to contribute to a positive working environmentit is important to adapt to the individual needs of staff. For example, if an employee needs flexibility to focus on a specific project, it is worthwhile considering this to maximise productivity.

Embrace Technology And Social Media

Technology and social media platforms are a key component to the daily life of Gen Ys; online channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Weibo are often the preferred channels of communication with their peers and colleagues. As such, we have seen a shift in the way that Gen Y staffcommunicate with each other – with less emphasis being on personal interaction. In light of this, it is worthwhile encouraging teams in all markets to schedule regular face-to-face meetings. When coordinating cross-border discussions, encourage Skype meetings or video conferencesin the place of email exchanges to enhanceprofessional relationships.

You may also consider introducing a more relaxed internet policy that allows employees to browse the internet during their lunch break. Fostering a culture that encourages Gen Ys to research and use technology will contribute to an innovative and forward thinking workplace.

Assign Gen Ys To An Experienced Mentor

A mentoring program is really important for grooming Gen Ysbecause they crave leadershipand personal development is a key motivator – arguably more so than remuneration. Gen Ys also tend to welcome regular feedback and respond well to positive reinforcement. Therefore, a senior-led mentoring scheme will build their confidence and enhance their skillsets. Select mentors who are familiar with mentoring and are comfortable with the process and the people.

Transparency is also vital when interacting with this generation, and a mentoring scheme will encourage regular and open communicationso that any issues or concerns can be immediately addressed.

Implement Managerial Training In Each Market

There are some stigmas about Gen Ys in the workplace, which may, for example, relate to their less formalworking style. Gen Ys are our future leaders, who are increasingly moving towards managerial roles and there is a need to address any preconceptionsto break down barriers.

To get the best out of Gen Ys, it is worthimplementing training schemes for managers in each market to equipthem with the appropriate skills to understand and motivate their Gen Y teams.

Build Relationships WithLocal Academic Institutions

In all of the marketsthat your organisation has a presence in, it is worthwhile engaging local educational institutions and building relationships with universities. Implementing aninternship program couldpotentially benefit all involved –Gen Y graduates are provided with on the ground experienceand, from a HR perspective, it willhelp to attractthe best talent.

Introduce Across-market Exchange Scheme
In many ways, Gen Ys are best placed for international business roles because they are better connected and have had the most exposure to other cultures through diverse schools, gap years, educational exchange programs and an increasinglyglobalised world where international travel is the norm.

To foster cross-border learning in your global organisation it is worthwhile considering implementing an international exchange program wherebyGen Y employees are given the opportunity to work in a different market and experience international business first-hand. Such schemes will encourage employees to adapt to different markets and,from a HR perspective, itwill also be considered a company ‘perk’ that will attract international talent.

Adapt And Regularly Review Your Global HR Policy

YourHR policy should frequently be reviewed and adapted to address changes to the organisational structure – especially as we are seeing Gen Ysincreasingly climb up the career ladder. One key component within the policy may include strategies that address Gen Y retention in the workplace.

Foster Innovation And Encourage New Ways Of Thinking
Generally speaking, Gen Ys appreciate clearly defined objectives and freedom.In addition to that, the ability to innovate empowers this generation of workers. As such, if they wish to host a brainstorm outside or at a local coffee shop, then encourage them. Facilitating innovative ideas is central to a positive and progressive working culture.One strategy is to host an online suggestion portal via your corporate intranet whereby employees can submit ideas and feedback – it will encourage participation andinvolvestaff in all markets in key organisational decisions.

There can be no doubt that Gen Ys will be the managers of the future. As we have seen in this article, they are well equipped to tackle these leadership positions and will achieve great success if they receive sound guidance from their more experienced colleagues.

Barry Thomas is the Vice President of Cook Group, Director of Cook Medical APAC and Managing Director of Cook Australia. Barry has more than two decades of international leadership and expertise in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. He currently spearheads the world’s fastest growing region for Cook Medical. His current position sees him working to expand the opportunities for people in Asia to access Cook Medical’s advanced and minimally invasive medical devices.



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