How to Play Gen Y's Game

Why traditional management models don't work with younger employees. And what video games have to do with it

Written by Staff
Don’t Be Afraid of Gen Y: Millennials Could Be Your Greatest Asset

What is it about Generation Y that rattles so many business leaders? Tony Chapman, who runs Toronto-based marketing agency Capital C, says maybe the problem is at your end.

Chapman delivered a keynote address at this summer’s PROFIT 500 CEO Summit, during which he asked audience members (mostly CEOs) to imagine what it’s like for Millennials, raised on immediate feedback, to enter the business culture. “Millennials send out a text and wait for a reply,” he noted. “Yet, when they join our companies, we say, €˜Welcome aboard. A year from now, I’ll tell you how you’re doing.'”

Rather than grumble, leverage how Gen-Yers learn: “Millennials are gamers, and games teach you through cognitive learning. That’s the most extraordinary learning, because you learn through failure,” said Chapman.

Cognitive learning is about enabling people to learn by using their reason, intuition and perception. It’s the way you learn when you’re playing a video game. Millennials are a product of the ’80s; they grew up on Nintendo. Now, as adults, they can play games on their smartphones day and night. As Chapman pointed out, it has shaped the way they learn.

“These guys drive their racecar on the web and hit the wall, hit the wall, hit the wall—and finally they make it through. Their adrenalin is rushing,” explained Chapman.

In a story for the American Psychology Association, psychologist Amy Jo Kim wrote that, “We’re in a period now where games are everywhere, and everyone’s a gamer.” Yet, as Chapman lamented, few companies are using gaming technology to get employees to learn how to deliver on their vision. The upside is that those businesses that do connect with Millennials this way have a big edge in attracting and retaining a generation that is a growing share of the workforce.

Watch: Tony Chapman’s video Q&A from the PROFIT 500 CEO Summit

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com