Every few decades, a new generation enters the workplace and organisational leaders are facing challenges with finding the best ways to lead and maximise their contributions within the multi-generational workforce. The generational cohort, Generation Y (millennials), born between 1979 to 1997, is the newest entrants in the workplace. Similar to previous generations who entered the workplace, Generation Y also brings unique characteristics and strengths to organisations, such as tech-savviness and willingness to make a meaningful contribution, which makes it impractical to have a one-size fits-all leadership approach in leading the multi-generational workforce. If the potential of Generation Y employees is unlocked through the right leadership styles and leadership communication approaches, they could turn out to be an organisation’s biggest assets. Approached from a post-modern world view, the aim of this study was to determine the preferred leadership style and leadership communication for Generation Y employees. This was done by conducting 20 face-to-face semistructured interviews with Generation Y employees across a few industries. With the consent of interviewees, the researcher took voice recordings and manually transcribed the interviews. The researcher made use of both manually and automated coding using the software programme Leximancer. The purpose of this study was to propose guidelines and develop a conceptual framework to organisational leaders based on the preferences of Generation Y employees in terms of leadership styles and leadership communication. From the findings, there is no one leadership style that would be ideal in managing Generation Y employees, instead a combination of leadership styles is preferred depending on the circumstances. The circumstances may require characteristics of the autocratic, participative, transformational, laissez-faire, servant and/or the communicative leadership style. With regards to leadership communication, important to Generation Y employees is that there is clear, open and frequent communication at all times. Organisational leaders should ensure that the preferred topics are included in the communication activities to these employees, namely: growth opportunities; personal performance; financial performance; expectations, roles and responsibilities; and any updates that may impact them. The preferred organisational leader would engage in face-to-face communication to speak to employees, and would share an email afterwards with the main points discussed to ensure that there is a paper trail. Although guidelines and a conceptual framework are proposed by this study, it remains the responsibility of organisational leaders to assess the various circumstances and determine what the ideal leadership style and leadership communication approaches would be for the different scenarios.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2017.