Tips for Managing the Facebook Generation

Last Updated Jan 23, 2011 11:35 PM EST

Every generation is unique -- whether you're managing baby boomers, Gen-Xers, or the newest crop of kids to hit the workforce, everyone has been shaped by the environment they grew up in, and therefore bring their own management challenges to the office. You can think of today's college grads as the "Facebook generation," or perhaps as "linksters." And to work effectively with these kids, you should understand how they're different than previous generations.

That's the argument Meagan and Larry Johnson (no relation to me) make in their new book, From Boomers to Linksters--Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work. These new grads, who have grown up on Facebook and Twitter, see the business world differently than their parents. Here are some of their tips for getting the most out of them:

  1. Lead by example. Linksters will look to their managers to suss out how to behave in the office. Pair them with older, more experienced mentors.
  2. Manage them closely. Linksters have a short attention span and work best when you can build incentives into the workflow.
  3. Give them a detailed job description. Be explicit about your expectations. Linksters need to have even the basics, such as work hours and role responsibilities, spelled out in detail.
  4. Learn their culture. The Johnsons suggest, for example, finding out about the music on their iPod so you have a basis for getting common ground.
  5. Create microcareer paths. Keep linksters challenged and engaged by letting them experience multiple aspects of your business. Give them additional tasks and let them explore additional responsibilities.
When I review these tips, I can't help but feel that we're being asked to coddle the newest entrants to the workforce in a way that no previous generation has ever done before. What do you think? Are these reasonable allowances, or are some management experts expecting less -- and therefore getting less -- from the Facebook generation? [via MSN Careers]

Photo courtesy Flickr user riczribeiro
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