Forum: What younger employees want from their leaders

Office workers along Robinson Road.
Office workers along Robinson Road.PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

Professor Tommy Koh's article on seven good habits for Singapore bosses to emulate resonated with me (Seven good habits for S'pore bosses to emulate, Oct 26).

As Gen X-ers raised by baby boomer parents and led by baby boomers, we assume that "silence is golden" as our leaders look for us only when they require us to do more or want to reprimand us for mistakes.

We do not need praise or encouragement to be motivated at work. If there was no scolding from the boss, it was considered a good job. This is how we were taught, and we continue to follow this style today.

With the re-employment age gradually being raised to 70, Singapore will have a diverse workforce of different age groups.

Younger Gen Y and Gen Z employees were raised differently, and look to their leaders to provide timely, personalised praise, feedback and coaching.

Members of older generations must change their leadership style and "catch employees doing things right" so that they can provide effective praise, rather than look out only for employees doing things wrongly so as to criticise them.

Leaders can enhance their leadership capabilities and enable their employees to be engaged at work by following The 5 Languages Of Appreciation In The Workplace, by Gary Chapman and Paul White.

Leaders can use four languages of appreciation in their daily interaction with employees:

• Words of affirmation provide immediate and specific praise;

• Quality time allows leaders to listen to employees' issues and have a non-judgmental and emphatic dialogue. During meetings, they allow employees to feel safe sharing ideas and opinions;

• Acts of service help employees to overcome their work obstacles; provide coaching, training and career development opportunities;

• Leaders can also give personalised and not pricey gifts, which the employee would value and appreciate.

Jasmine Liew Chia Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2019, with the headline 'What younger employees want from their leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe