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MANY of us older folk (I don’t feel that old, but apparently I am from Generation X and admittedly I am 25 years older than one or two of my colleagues at Spinnaker) struggle with understanding our younger colleagues (and our children) nowadays. Of course, we were taught to respect our superiors and that if we put in long hours and made sacrifices the rewards would come.

Our good friend Karina Albers has become something of an expert and sought-after speaker and trainer on Generation Y. According to Karina, it may well be that ships are getting fixed on Facebook – surely not! Karina is a former shipbroker and chartering director with particular expertise in derivatives and FFAs. As well as acting as an expert witness and consultant in these areas, Gen Y has become her sideline. Over to her…

IN THE ‘GOOD OLD DAYS’ when pens had ink and offices had telex rooms, broking offices were full of noise and everyone was on the telephone.

And when instant messenger came along, experienced brokers were very sceptical about this new way of conversing. Shorter conversations? No documentation or records? But things quickly change and offices are quiet places nowadays; negotiations take place via IM like it was always thus. Naturally it was the younger generation who embraced the new technology faster.

Now in the era of Facebook we face an even greater challenge. Do young people already negotiate vessels and contract via Facebook? You bet! Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000, is a different breed of worker who embraces social networks.

Why are they are always on Facebook? Do they spend too much time on it instead of working? Possibly, but if you take the time and speak to your younger colleagues and ask them what Facebook is about and what they do on there all the time you might just find out that they actually do work on Facebook, using it to negotiate ships and other contracts. A nightmare for company security and IT departments.

As with IM I am sure specialists will find a way to overcome these concerns and, arguably, it will be easier to find solutions than to stop generation Y from using Facebook.

Studies have shown that already 24% of jobseekers will not work for an employer that does not allow the use of Facebook. With the demographic changes – veterans (born pre 1946) and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) retiring – the skills pool is shrinking, especially in the western hemisphere. That means we need generation Y and they know it!

They are challenging employers to change with these high-tech times. How to attract, retain and lead the young workforce is a key question that needs a fresh look. Growing up with parents as friends and advisers, being encouraged to voice their opinion at home, trying lots of different hobbies (which never lets them feel that they are not good at anything), having the latest technology at home and communicating with their friends online more than face-to-face, Generation Y requires different leadership than previous generations.

Supportive autonomy is the work style and leadership young talent prefers. Mentoring instead of control and command is the secret to get the most out of this highly motivated and well educated young generation.

If you are curious and would like to know more have a look at or follow Karina on twitter @algeny2009.

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