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U So Can Manage Gen Y

Members of the latest generation to join the workforce are as valuable as they are frustrating. Making an effort will make a difference

In my community there's an ad campaign going on. It features a series of large public service advertisements plastered on the backs of city buses. The ads feature slightly artsy or unconventional-looking young people of high school or college age, with captions such as "I may text while I'm speaking to you, but I repair my next-door neighbor's computer, too." The idea is that today's young people—as gadgety and flip as youth has ever been—possess good qualities. It's not hard to see why the sponsors of this ad campaign might believe that Gen Y needs help with its image. As much as employers groused about Gen X back when, the furor over Gen Y is at least 10 times as loud. Is Gen Y as spacey, self-obsessed, motivationally challenged, and ADD as the hype would have us believe? That's for you to decide. I know some Gen-Y kids who'd struggle to hold a job at Target (TGT) and others who'd make any talent-starved manager's heart beat faster. As with any generation, Gen-Y staff members range from the worst sort of slackers to those worthy of Eagle-Scout status. Hiring managers who paint all Gen Yers with the same brush can expect to pass up some incredibly talented folks. Smart bosses will manage their employees as individuals, not date-stamped losers. They won't throw the Gen-Y kids out with the bath water. Peruse our slide show to find out how to do it.

Liz Ryan is an expert on the new-millennium workplace and a former Fortune 500 HR executive.

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