Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mob Effect

I've been incredibly busy with work and volunteering the last few months and haven't written anything tactical about management and leading generation Y in quite a while. I thought I would write something that could aid other managers in their respective fields and industries to lead their team in the right direction.

I'll explain my tactics and philosophies in building the team, training, retaining, and changing the culture of your team through generation Y employees.

Talking with my peers, colleagues and fellow young professionals in small and large organizations I find that we all perceive our company's current cost saving measures differently and with different foci on what is important. Our values our created as individuals but also as a collective group within the community of individuals we work with. This is what I call the mob effect. It's one portion of how we has human beings react to change -but for some reason I find that gen Y is overtly reactive, emotional, and vocal about their perspective. Instantly seeking validation through "likes" on facebook or retweets on twitter, or even a ":)" or "tots" via text message. On the other end of the these updates and messages the "friends" or public agrees or disagrees and it creates a larger group feeling a certain way with so much shared abundance of information.

How many times have you written up an employee, or had a serious performance conversation with a member of your team? and what you said and how you said it is fodder for the rest of the team by day end? Or how many times have you not said anything and your "in-action" is messaging the wrong message and that gets out not only to your team (through gen y's need to share) , but neighboring groups and teams? With the amount of information that is shared and collected so freely and easily its more and more imperative for managers to become leaders than simply be managers or Gen Y will collect and share data and essentially mob into one hive mind/group and make a collective decision that might not be the direction your organization has asked you to take the group. The scenario I'm painting is a bit extreme, but I wanted to get the idea of the mob effect explained so that I can explain how to navigate it and leverage it. Take the negative aspects of Gen Y and make them work for you and your organization.

1. Eliminate negativity. Any change cannot take place without the will and energy to change. Like a bad virus a negative team member will infect the rest of the group. Treat it quickly and early and if it still persists - take the member out of the equation.

2. Recruit and Borrow Aggressively. There are people that are successful all around you in the same organization, or competing, or neighboring, or indirect or anything. Get out there and aggressively search and find the right people, knowledge and resources to obtain your goals. This is to operate your business while you slowly build, hire and train "your" team of people that you interview and choose.

3. Keep them happy and create clear goals and objectives. Create validations on behaviors that you want. Create quick and severe punishments for behaviors that are un acceptable and continually push and grow team members. Make it competitive and develop skills and cross train. Read Jack Welch's Auto Biography it explain this a bit better than me but "continually hire great people and continually performance out employees that are not elevating or escalating the organization or group.

4. Most important! make it "cool" to be the best at what you do. Change the culture of the group and control the mob effect. This part takes time and as your building your team and taking out the negativity in your team the collective mob thought will all be geared towards your direction because only people that understand your vision will be left. Reward monetarily and with praise and recognize those that strive for greatness set in the parameters of your organization.

The main points to keep at the top of your mind is to understand that you are constantly communicating wether your verbally talking or not. Also understand that any message you send to any gen Y is a message to all gen Y. Gen Y is a culture of sharing and individuality and as that culture progresses it actually becomes the exact opposite of individuality but collective mob effect. Don't fear it, embrace it and own it.


  1. Interesting article. I work for a Generational Consultancy, InsYght, as a Partner here in Portland Oregon. We are always looking for guest bloggers to write for our company website. Let me know if you would be interested. Check it out at

  2. Hey Bret, Thanks for reading my blog post! I just check out your company website and I'm very impressed and interested. You can reach me at

    Looking forward to hearing from you.