An interesting book about Gen Y, “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy” by Bruce Tulgan talks about the challenges of managing that generation. Full of anecdotes about how managing them is like herding cats and often more like parenting than managing.

Will this recessionary time recalibrate Gen Y expectations? Simple economics suggests so, especially as the enormous size of that cohort increases competition for the “good jobs’ as economic strength returns.

A recent Harris Interactive survey of Gen Y employees found that three out of five respondents said that their first employer did not provide a clear path for advancement. Of course, the reality is that few employers provide a clear path to anything, much less to the corner office.

Other key findings:
Describing how their first job made them feel, 13% said they couldn’t wait for Friday to arrive, 10% wanted to quit every day and 8% felt it was a waste of their time

19% of 18-34 year olds wanted to quit their first job every day, compared to 3% of those 55 years old and over

So, does this represent unrealistic expectations by Gen Y or the typical angst of first time employees? Based on the research in the PWAC Manifesto, I suspect that we are seeing a continuation of the trend that started when they were kids. After years of being told by their parents and teachers that they were “special” many really believe that a few months or years into a job they should already have a clear path to the top. Did we all think that way when we were that young? I don’t recall feeling that way.

Here’s the paradox: there is a shortage of PWACs of all ages. So on one hand you do want to retain them even if they might need to recalibrate their expectations.

On the other, the Gen Y generation is huge so you might be time to consider letting the most unrealistic ones go and cast your net back into the pool.

How do you manage Gen Ys or UNREALISTIC expectations regardless of the age of your employee?