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“Why are our Employees blowing off due dates – and what can we do if they are not being held accountable?”

That’s the Employee Accountability challenge a peer group member recently brought up in a monthly conference call. Can you relate?

After the discussion ended, another member commented on this issue: “Normally these types of conversations spiral down into a generational gap conversation, and this one did not.”


What is the Generational Gap, Anyway?

Before we continue the discussion on how to motivate underperforming team members, let’s look at what is Generational Gap, exactly. Millennials are the most popular generation discussed today, as you’re likely aware. Wikipedia gives us a great definition not only of who is considered a Millennial, but also what other generations are in today’s workforce:

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are the generational demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years. Millennials are sometimes referred to as “echo boomers” due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s, and because millennials are often the children of the baby boomers. Although millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions, the generation has been generally marked by increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.”

So, with this information in hand, we can say the different generations are: Boomers, Gen X/Busters, Millennials (Gen Y), and Gen Z.

Here are the typical birth years for these generations:

  • Boomers: 1946-1964
  • Generation X (Busters): 1965-1979
  • Millennials: 1980-1994
  • Generation Z: 1995-2012
  • And then the world ends…


In IT & Beyond, Millennials are a Hot Topic

There’s no doubt the area of Millennials in the workplace has been a hot topic in the IT Support community online and in general. In a recent article we shared, 4 keys to Hiring and Retaining Millennials for IT Support, we highlighted a few key ways to motivate this group:


Remind Millennials and all Employees often..

As to how they are benefiting the world by relieving pain, one end user at a time!

  • Create a collaborative environment both in physical space as well as workplace culture.
  • Develop policies that embrace BYOD and environments that depend on multiple technology tools.

For example, others have helped me as a boomer to embrace multiple technologies that come naturally to Gen Y & Z.  Technology such as:

  • Desktop: My preference is to work from a Desktop.
  • Laptop: I have a laptop that I use on the road, and that includes working from my Living Room or Deck.
  • Tablet: Slack and Teams were swamping my CPU, so I respond to those channels off my tablet.
  • Phone: I find I use my phone to check an incoming email to see if it is more important than what I am currently working on, and to stay in touch when I am away from the office (away from the office means in the Living Room or any place another Technology is not handy).

We also expect Gen Y’s to be self-motivating in an area where other generations seem to be struggling:

  • They love to be social. If we framed it correctly, they would naturally want to build relationships with Customers by talking with them often, including before, during, and at the end of an engagement. However, as one member of the Team is quick to point out, “Gen Y and Gen Z love to communicate and be social but not in a traditional way, instead through video chat, social media, and texting as their preferred method of contact.”


Some Key Perspectives on Millennials

While this may be good information, the responses to the article were overwhelming and very insightful. For example, one response was as long as the article. The responder (a user on Reddit) has permitted us to quote his response. Here are some of the key points of what he said:

“Mid-level Millennials: Pay, benefits, and scope of work are by far the top concerns of my generation.”

“Millennials carry an incredible debt load out of college in addition to run-away housing costs.”

“Creating progress is very important, as is solving complex problems and working with a team…”

“For the most part, Millennials are just like everyone else, and their top concerns are themselves and their future.”

“Focus on the fact that you are going to prepare them for the future, you are going to provide them with the tools to grow, and you are going to treat them fairly while you are at it.”


What motivates everyone to perform better?

As I re-read his response in preparing to give my own, it seems his comments are applicable across all generational lines. When it comes to that little four-letter word – WORK – it’s true that we may each approach it differently.

But at the end of every day, we all learn from each other. We’re working to get paid, and this is something we all share in common.

So, if the generational lines have blurred, what motivates everyone to perform better? Before answering this audacious question, let’s ponder:

How in the world can we expect any one thing to motivate us all?

Or at the end of the day, are we created more alike than we are willing to admit?

In closing, here are the suggestions that came out of the MSP-Ignite Service Managers Peer Group in response to a peer group member’s original question – “Why are our Employees blowing off due dates – and what can we do if they are not being held accountable?”:

  • Ask why the due date was missed and remove any process roadblocks that prevent hitting the due dates in the future.
  • Track and analyze trends; discuss why the habit is continuing.
  • Do a formal write up when due dates continue to be missed and put them on a performance plan.
  • Make Accountability something to be proud of – think bonuses, profit sharing. Move to quarterly, or better yet, monthly
    • One member is going to monthly profit sharing – gate sharing.
    • Another member is looking into an ESOP program.

We want to hear what you think… What advice do you have on this hot topic?

If you found this article helpful, subscribe to more of Steve’s articles here.

P.S. Is your PSA fully optimized? If it is, here’s what your metrics should look like:

  • SLAs are above 95%
  • Resource Utilization is above 80%
  • RHEM is below .30 hours
  • Total Time to Completion is below 8 days

If you do not know your numbers for these metrics, you need a Resource Planning Analyst. Contact Steve here.

If you do know the numbers, but they aren’t all that good, take the PSA Optimization Self-Evaluation to find out where to start.

Stephen Buyze

Stephen leverages over 30 years of Technical Management experience to help IT Managed Service Providers improve their Service Delivery operations. He’s walked many miles in the shoes of Service Managers and IT Professionals and is passionate about giving back. Learn more about “How He Helps” at