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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
Training materials. Managing Generation Y Rainmaker Thinking Inc
Managing Generation Y Rainmaker Thinking Inc
Managing Generation Y is one of a series of training programmes produced by Rainmaker; others include Coaching Skills for Managers and Managing the Generation Mix. The aim of Managing Generation Y is to train managers how to attract, motivate, train, develop, reward and retain the youngest generation in the workforce. A number of other labels are used to describe this group, e.g. Millennials, Generation www, Generation E, but I remain unclear about exactly what age group is being covered – teens to "early 20 somethings" seems to be the most definitive categorisation offered by the training materials.
The accompanying publicity makes two bold claims. First, the materials are in a format which is "revolutionary" and, second, the programme is "cutting edge". There is probably some justification that the delivery format is different from the norm. What Rainmaker appear to be offering is an unlimited license to use the materials, all of which are in the form of electronic files, at a relatively low cost ($3,500). Organisations can use the content as it stands or customise it to suit at no additional cost. However, the extent to which this is "revolutionary" seems somewhat questionable.
Evidence for the second claim is also somewhat "thin". The training materials are certainly of a high standard. They include detailed schedules; suggestions for participant activates; a full set of power-point slides and even a detailed trainers script! Comprehensive materials ale provided on Generation Y's supposed expectations. These number 14 in total and include "balancing delegated assignments with freedom and flexibility"; treating Y'ers as colleagues not as interns or teenagers", and "establishing mentoring relationships". The standard format appears to be some input; for example, points of good practice on "providing challenging work that really matters", followed by some kind of self-assessment exercise or questionnaire for participants to complete and discuss in relation to their own practice. Sound enough – but cutting edge?
The training materials also include two nine-minute lectures; one from someone called Bruce Tulgan, and one from someone called Dr Carolyn Martin. Who are these people? They proclaim to have been researching young person issues and questions in the USA since 1993. But their "findings" do not altogether square with my experience of 16-20-year-olds, nor my reading of the UK or European research. A number of "truths" are expounded on the basis of this research. Young people are the ("self-esteem generation" the "education is cool generation" and the "socially conscious generation", leading a new wave of "volunteerism". Is this really the research evidence from the USA? What about the US equivalent of the 30-40 per cent who leave school in the UK with minimal or no qualifications. In the UK, also, many employers who regularly do recruit young people, remain deeply suspicious of the work readiness of many of their young recruits.
However, my main concern with this training programme is not so much the unsubstantiated claims about the characteristics of today's youth – after all, these are pertinent and relevant questions in terms of the transition into work and the effective management of young people once in work. Rather, it seems to be an example of a training programme that does not travel too well. It is simply too steeped in a North American culture to be of any real value elsewhere. Possibly the written materials and handout could, with some effort, be suitably customised, but I fancy few trainers would escape alive if they proceeded to play these videos.
Overall, then, something of a disappointment. While this remains a very important training issue I wonder if it is really one that is best tackled through a fairly standard type training course. Rainmaker have produced a solid enough set of training materials but insufficiently imaginative to overcome the very obvious US basis on which it is constructed.