A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré

 
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
A New Generation:
                           The Success of Generation Y
           Oman
                 Qatar

                                      Saudi Arabia
UAE
                                     in GCC Countries
                   Saudi Arabia
                   Bahrain UAE                  Dr. Carina Paine Schofield
      uwait Qatar
                          Kuwait
                                                          and Sue Honoré

      audi Arabia
                                                                  February 2015

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                                                 Saudi Arabia

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      UAE KUWAIT    Bahra                                     Kuwait
Saudi Arabia

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                                                             Saudi Arabia

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       Kuwait

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                       Saudi Arabia
               Qatar

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A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank all those individuals who participated in this research.
We would also like to thank all the other people in the Midde East and the UK who helped
make this survey a reality. We would particularly like to acknowledge our colleagues
Alex Davda, for his contribution to all stages of the project, and Khaldoon Al Doory,
for his valuable advice.

© Ashridge Business School 2014
All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose of criticism
or review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievable system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise, without the prior permission of Ashridge.

For more information please contact research@ashridge.org.uk

                                                                  Ashridge Business School
                                                                  Berkhamsted
                                                                  Hertfordshire HP4 1NS, UK
ISBN: 978-1-910025-08-6                                           www.ashridge.org.uk
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
Table of Contents

Foreword ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 3

2 Key Findings .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5

3 The Pressure to Succeed ............................................................................................................................................................................. 7

4 Career Success ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11

5 Generational Perspectives ....................................................................................................................................................................... 15

6 Formal Learning and Development ................................................................................................................................................ 21

7 Generation Y and their Managers .................................................................................................................................................... 25

8 Conclusions and Recommendations ............................................................................................................................................ 31

Appendices                      .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................   33
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
About this Research
This project differs from previous work (by Ashridge and others) in that it focuses on the local population and covers all
six GCC countries. A survey of 300 Generation Y people across the six countries explored the drivers of the pressure
to succeed, important factors in career success for Generation Y and sources and format of mutual learning and
development opportunities for Generation Y with their older work colleagues. Comparisons are made between countries
and by gender within country.

The findings from the research show that Generation Y in the GCC countries is a strongly motivated workforce, with a
number of opportunities for organisations and individuals to exploit in order to pave the way for the future. The results
are summarised in this report.
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
Foreword

Each generation is different from the one that went before, but Generation Y, defined here as those aged
30 years and under, has taken a bigger step forward. Driven by new technology changing at an ever-
increasing pace, globalisation and greater international communication capabilities, changes in societal
norms and in family and educational upbringing, Generation Y has burst into the world of work.

This generation has been in the work environment for a number of years and is beginning to shape
processes, attitudes and learning and development. The workforce is now strongly multi-generational,
often containing three generations, with different backgrounds, all working together. It is therefore
important to understand Generation Y and their interactions with their colleagues in the modern
workforce.

Whilst Generation Y is a global phenomenon with an increasing preoccupation amongst organisation
leaders around the world, it holds significant importance in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries,
with the region’s demographic youth bulge and strategic focus on localisation. Unique insights into the
regional characteristics of Generation Y are essential therefore to informing and shaping regional talent
management and leadership development strategies.

This research specifically examines the viewpoint of local Generation Y employees (rather than
expatriates), across the six GCC countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE). It examines the successes and aspirations of young people at work in their local
environments, exploring a range of topics from drivers of success to learning and working relationships
with other employees. It provides a unique insight into this generation in different countries in the Middle
East and will be of interest to a range of stakeholders, including Generation Y as well as employers and
managers of Generation Y in the Middle East.

Rory Hendrikz
Director, Ashridge Middle East

                                                                                                               1
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
Who is
    Generation Y?
2
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
1
Introduction

Who is Generation Y?                                              GCC country perspective
Generation Y (Gen Y) is defined here as the group of              The Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) is a regional
people aged 30 years and under. This generation has               cooperative system between six Gulf countries: Saudi
been written about and researched for a number of years           Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
now, and there has been much publicity about how widely           and Oman. The GCC which was formed in 1981 was based
different it is from those which have gone before. Much of        on the need to reconstruct identity. The principle of a single
the media coverage of Gen Y has focused on character              culture, common religion, language and the similarity of their
traits which have shown them in a negative light, as              regulations and economic and social conditions were key
disenfranchised, antisocial technophiles with short attention     factors that facilitated the establishment of the GCC.
spans and poor communication skills. Media articles
therefore tend to focus on how to motivate young people           The world has changed dramatically, so both global and
and how older generations can adapt to Gen Y. However,            local culture have an impact on Gen Y. Rapid changes
the reality is far more complex.                                  in technology, communication, human resourcing and
                                                                  business models, combined with shifting political and
Gen Y has now settled into the workplace, so it is                cultural norms, provide a very different background for
interesting to see the trends that have emerged over the          Gen Y’s workplace when compared to that of their parents.
last decade. Overall, there is a consensus that Gen Y:
• has grown up in a very different environment to previous       Previous Ashridge research1 has found many aspects of
   generations                                                    Gen Y that apply around the world, such as Gen Y’s:
• comes to the workplace with different skills                    • focus on self
• is motivated by different things                                • peer orientation rather than respect for hierarchy
• thinks differently about learning and development               • preference for a strong work-life balance.
• approaches work relationships differently.
                                                                  At the same time there were areas that were found to
It is essential for organisations around the world to learn       have a stronger local emphasis, such as a drive for high
more about Gen Y and understand its expectations of               level academic qualifications in the Middle East. Some of
work. The common trends that are appearing in both                these local themes deserve extra emphasis. The impact
this generation and the workplace require attention and           of globalisation and modernisation in the GCC countries
analysis, because, importantly, the members of Gen Y are          has resulted in various socio-cultural implications. The
the managers and leaders of the future.                           rapid growth and relative youth of the population have
                                                                  allowed expatriates to dominate the workforce and have a
It is important to recognise that Gen Y is not a group of         direct influence on the national cultures and on economic
homogenous clones. It is made up of individuals with a            markets in the GCC countries. The demographic of the
wide range of skills and behaviours. This, and all other          working population in GCC countries is unique, with a
research into Gen Y, demonstrates general trends and              high population of very young managers and a mix of
highlights key areas for discussion. It is up to individuals to   local and expatriate leaders. Yet, as in the rest of the
apply this information in their own workplace context and         world, understanding the needs and drives of this young
with their own colleagues.                                        population is critical.

                                                                                                                              3
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
Key Findings
4
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
2
Key Findings

                 76% of Gen Y say          Career success is:           Older colleagues
                                                                     play an important role
SUCCESS

               pressure to succeed           ‘a high salary’
                     is ‘strong’.       ‘knowledge & expertise’       in Gen Y’s success:
               It comes from within       and ‘good work-life       helping with experience,
                    themselves.                 balance’                communication
                                                                          and patience
DEVELOPMENT

               Gen Y can help older             Gen Y in
                   colleagues:               GCC countries          Gen Y want to develop
                 with technology,         value ‘qualifications’    ‘people’ & ‘leadership’
               and determination to       and ‘formal training’        skills to succeed
                     succeed

                                                                      Gen Y females are
              Gen Y want ‘visionary’
                                         The main differences          looking for their
PEOPLE

              and ‘democratic’ rather
                                          in the generations:        managers to change
                than ‘commanding’
                                        Gen Y ‘speak their mind’       their style more
                    managers
                                                                        than males are

                                           Figure 1: Key findings

                                                                                               5
A New Generation: The Success of Generation Y in GCC Countries - Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré
The Pressure to
    Succeed
6
3
The Pressure to Succeed

What pressure is there on Generation Y                           the pressure is ‘very strong’ (50% and 52% respectively).
to succeed?
The prevailing economic and cultural environments have a         A higher percentage of males (79%) than females (70%)
strong influence on the drive to succeed in individuals. In      report the pressure to succeed in their career is ‘strong’,
the GCC countries this ‘pressure’ is very positive and can       and over half of males (51%) report this pressure to be ‘very
provide a strong motivational force in the workplace.            strong’. Overall, the pressure to succeed was felt most by
                                                                 males in the UAE (81% reported a ‘strong’ pressure
Over three-quarters of Gen Y (76%) report the pressure to        to succeed).
succeed in their career is ‘strong’. The percentage of
Gen Y who report a ‘strong’ pressure to succeed is highest              81% of males in the UAE feel strong
in Qatar (80%) and the UAE (80%), and lowest in Bahrain                        pressure to succeed.
(66%). Around one half of Gen Y in Kuwait and Oman report

                            Overall       Bahrain       Kuwait          Oman            Qatar      Saudi Arabia      UAE

Very strong                  46             40            50              52             48            42            44
Fairly strong                30             26            26              24             32            34            36
TOTAL STRONG                 76             66            76              76             80            76            80
Weak / No pressure           24             34            24              24             20            24            20

                                      Table 1: Pressure to succeed, by country (%)

                        Female                                                                  Male
    Weak/No                                  Very                       Weak/No                                   Very
    pressure                                 strong                     pressure                                  strong

         Fairly                                                                Fairly
         strong                                                                strong
                                      Figure 2: Pressure to succeed, by gender (%)

                                                                                                                             7
Who is driving Generation Y to succeed in work?
Where does this pressure to succeed come from in GCC nationals? Is it extrinsic or intrinsic?

                   Myself                        Family                 Society                       Religion
               (all countries)                    (UAE)                  (UAE)                    (Saudi Arabia and
                                                                                                       Oman)

                           Figure 3: The pressure for Gen Y to succeed in work comes from…

                                       Overall      Bahrain    Kuwait       Oman         Qatar       Saudi Arabia     UAE

Myself                                   59           56         69          64              63          67           37
Parents/family                           18           21         13          10              23          12           30
Religion                                 8            9           8          14              2           14           2
Society in which I live                  5            3           3           2              7            2           14
Friends                                  3            3           0           0              0            2           9
Manager                                  2            6           3           0              5            0           0
Organisation/Business leaders            2            3           0           2              0            2           5
Politicians/Government leaders           1            0           0           5              0            0           0

                                 Table 2: Sources of the drive for success, by country (%)

Gen Y locals who feel pressure to succeed in their careers report that the strongest drive comes from ‘myself’ (59%).
This figure was higher for Gen Y in Kuwait (69%) and Saudi Arabia (67%) compared to other countries, and was higher for
females (66%) than males (56%).

8
00
     Drive to succeed comes from 'myself'

      %

80    80

      70

60    60

      50

40    40

      30

20    20

      10

 0      0

               Bahrain              Kuwait              Oman                Qatar            Saudi Arabia             UAE

            Male
            Female

                         Figure 4: The drive for success comes from ‘myself’, by gender and by country (%)

     Females appear to feel a stronger personal drive to           ‘Religion’ was more of a driver for males than females
     succeed than males, apart from those in Kuwait. The           (10% and 6% respectively) and for those in Oman and
     highest figure was for females in Saudi Arabia - 81%          Saudi Arabia (14% for both) compared to other locations.
     reported the drive for success comes from themselves,
     compared to 58% of males agreeing. Oman also showed           Local Gen Y employees feel a strong drive to succeed
     a strong gender difference with 78% of females but only       and see that it comes from within themselves. Managers
     54% of males agreeing.                                        should recognise and support these ambitions. There is
                                                                   also a great opportunity to tap into the motivation of young
     After ‘myself’ the next biggest driver was ‘parents and       women in the GCC countries.
     family’, which was reported by just under one-fifth
     of Gen Y (18%). In the UAE the influences were more              The strongest drive for Gen Y to succeed in
     evenly distributed, with 37% coming from the individuals            their career comes from themselves.
     themselves, 30% from parents and family and a strong
     contribution also coming from ‘society’ (14%).

                                                                                                                              9
Career Success
10
4
Career Success

What does career success mean to Generation Y?
It is clear that career success is particularly important to Gen Y in GCC countries, but how is success defined by this generation?

                                                              Salary
                          Knowledge
                         and expertise                                                   Work-life balance

                                             Figure 5: Career success to Gen Y is…

                                                                                                                      Ranked in
                                                                                                     Rank
                                                                                                                      top 3 (%)2
 High salary                                                                                            1                 54
 Knowledge and expertise                                                                                2                 46
 Good work-life balance                                                                                 3                 37
 Reputation/Respect                                                                                     4                 34
 Opportunity to be creative/Innovative                                                                  5                 30
 Recognition for my achievements                                                                        6                 26
 Job status                                                                                             7                 21
 Making a difference                                                                                    8                 18
 Independence in work/Working for myself                                                                9                 18
 Connections with people                                                                               10                 15

                                      Table 3: What does career success mean to Gen Y?

                                                                                                                                   11
Findings around what career success means were fairly             In terms of gender differences, career success seems
consistent across all six GCC countries, with ‘high salary’,      to mean similar things for males and females: with ‘high
‘knowledge and expertise’ and ‘work-life balance’                 salary’ being ranked in the top three factors by 53% of
appearing consistently in the top three factors for Gen Y         males and 54% of females. ‘Knowledge and expertise’
across the region. However, there were some significant           was ranked in the top three factors by 48% of males and
differences:                                                      43% of females. However, ‘reputation/respect’ appears
•A  lmost half of Gen Y locals in Bahrain and Qatar (46%)        to define success more for females than males, along with
   rank ‘work-life balance’ in their top three factors. This      ‘independence in work’. ‘Work-life balance’ was ranked
   figure is significantly higher than the percentage in Kuwait   in the top three factors by 39% of males, but ‘reputation/
   and Saudi Arabia (26%).                                        respect’ ranked higher than ‘work-life balance’ for
•A  significantly higher percentage of Gen Y locals in Saudi     females (35% and 33% respectively). A significantly higher
   Arabia rank ‘knowledge and expertise’ in their top three       percentage of females than males also ranked ‘job status’
   factors compared to Gen Y locals in the UAE (56% and           in their top three factors (27% and 17% respectively).
   36% respectively).
•A  significantly higher percentage of Gen Y in the UAE
   (32%), Kuwait (24%) and Qatar (24%) rate ‘job status’ in
   their top three compared to Bahrain (8%).                        A high salary is the most important definition
•A significantly higher percentage of Gen Y locals in                 of career success for both males and
   Bahrain (24%) and Qatar (24%) rate ‘independence in                    females across all GCC countries.
   work’ in their top three compared to Kuwait (8%).

                                                         % ranking in top three factors
                                           Males                                               Females

                                  Work-life balance (56)                                    High salary (64)
       Bahrain

                                                                                High salary (60) and Knowledge and
                                      High salary (54)
                                                                                           expertise (60)
       Kuwait

                                                                             Opportunity to be creative/Innovative (48)
                                      High salary (66)
                                                                                and Knowledge and expertise (48)
       Oman

                              Knowledge and expertise (50)                                  High salary (80)
        Qatar

                                      High salary (63)                              Knowledge and expertise (60)
  Saudi Arabia

                                      High salary (48)                                      High salary (57)
        UAE

         Table 4: What does career success mean to Gen Y? Highest % of respondents ranking factor in top three,
                                            by country and by gender (%)

      ‘Reputation’, ‘respect’ and ‘job status’ are                females in Qatar, with 80% ranking it within their top three
     more important to females than males when                    factors of career success. There were some notable
                  defining success.                               exceptions: a higher percentage of males in Bahrain
                                                                  ranked ‘work-life balance’ in their top three factors of
Overall, a high salary appears to be the most important           career success (56%) compared to ‘high salary’ (52%);
definition of career success for both males and females           in Qatar males ranked ‘knowledge and expertise’ (50%)
across all GCC countries. This figure was highest for             significantly higher than salary (40%). In addition, females

12
in Oman and Saudi Arabia also ranked other factors higher
than salary.                                                    Therefore, rather than a generic approach to career
                                                                development, the subtleties of what career success is to
These findings illustrate the way that GCC Gen Y nationals      Gen Y should be recognised by organisations who are
define career success and that this may differ to other         serious about developing and retaining their talent in the
regions around the globe. The role of society and family are    GCC region. The research suggests organisational leaders
key drivers for success in the GCC and they may influence       should also consider how they can provide their Gen Y
the personal views of career success. For example, an           female employees with opportunities to enhance their
individual with a high salary and good work-life balance        reputation and improve how they are seen by the rest of
can support their family and those with high levels of          the business.
knowledge and expertise can contribute to the growth of
their society.

What does Generation Y need to succeed?
Gen Y locals were asked to describe the one biggest thing that they thought could help them succeed in their career.
Some key themes emerged from their responses:

     Development/Education                             Experience                      Respected/Acknowledged/
    Commitment/Determination                         Self-confidence                         Appreciated

                                        Figure 6: What will help Gen Y to succeed?

One central theme concerned education and                       feeling valued and respected were other key factors that
development, which should be continuous throughout              Gen Y locals felt would help them succeed in their career.
a career. Gen Y locals detailed the need for: training and
development; education (qualifications/certificates) and also   There is a major opportunity for success. The themes
self-development in order to succeed. Another central theme     described can be addressed by both organisations and by
was the need for a commitment to work: with high levels of      individuals. Many of the themes recur in other responses
perseverance; determination; and devotion to work.              throughout the survey, suggesting they are central areas to
                                                                be explored through discussion and coaching, in order to
Gen Y locals described how they felt that greater levels of     maximise the experience and achievements of Gen Y.
self-confidence (and also self-belief and self-esteem) would
help them succeed. This supports earlier work which explains         Gen Y believes that the biggest actions
how although Gen Y are viewed as very confident by others,         that lead to career success are continuous
they do not necessarily see themselves in the same light3,4.     development and a strong commitment to work.

A greater level of experience; contributions to the
organisation being acknowledged and appreciated; and

                                                                                                                              13
Generational
 Perspectives
14
5
Generational Perspectives

Multi-generational working is a key theme across the               What is the biggest difference between
globe and no more so than in the GCC countries, where              Generation Y and their older colleagues?
there is a higher proportion of Gen Y working alongside            There will always be differences between generations; they
older generations in the same organisation. There is               have grown up with different experiences. What is it that
also the dynamic of expatriates managing local staff and           defines Gen Y in the GCC countries compared to previous
local managers with expatriate staff. The large number             generations?
of different nationalities in the region adds a final layer of
complexity.

    Speak my                                                              Instant
                                         Share                           decisions                    Switched
      mind
                                      information                                                        on

           26%                               17%                            16%                            16%
  I tell people what I think       I am willing to share all the   I would rather make instant    I am always ‘switched on’
      / I speak my mind              information I find. I don’t      decisions than go to        and in contact with people
                                           keep it secret                   meetings

                         Figure 7: The biggest difference between Gen Y and their older colleagues

                                                                                                                           15
I prefer electronic communication to face-to-face (30)
            Bahrain

                                 I tell people what I think/I speak my mind (34)
            Kuwait

                                 I would rather make instant decisions than go to meetings (22)
                                 I am willing to share all the information I find. I don’t keep it secret (22)
             Oman
                                 I am always ‘switched on’ and in contact with people (22)

                                 I am willing to share all the information I find. I don’t keep it secret (28)
             Qatar

                                 I tell people what I think/I speak 40
                                                                    my mind (32)
          Saudi Arabia
                                                                    35
                                 I tell people what I think/I speak my mind (34)
              UAE                                                   30
               Table 5: The biggest difference between Gen Y 25
                                                             locals and their older colleagues, by country (%)

     The findings were consistent for male and female Gen Y 20              each of the six GCC countries. The highest figure overall
     locals overall. However, looking at males and females by               was for females in Kuwait: 40% selected ‘tell people what
     country highlighted some differences. The percentage of
                                                              15            they think/speak their mind’. In comparison, the percentage
     females who stated the biggest difference between them                 of males who state the biggest difference was that they
                                                              10
     and their older colleagues was that they ‘tell people what             would ‘rather make instant decisions than go to
     they think/speak their mind’ was higher than males, in 5               meetings’ was higher than females in all of the countries.

                                                                        0
      %                   I make instant decisions                          %                        I speak my mind
40    40                                                            40      40

35                                                                  35
30    30                                                            30      30

25                                                                  25
20    20                                                            20      20

15                                                                  15
10    10                                                            10      10

5                                                                       5
0      0                                                                0     0
                                                         Saudi                                                             Saudi
40          Bahrain     Kuwait      Oman      Qatar      Arabia   UAE             Bahrain   Kuwait      Oman    Qatar      Arabia   UAE

                             Female                   Male                                       Female                 Male
35
                      Figure 8: I make instant decisions                                     Figure 9: I speak my mind
30
25               The biggest difference between Gen Y locals and their older colleagues, by gender and by country (%)

20   16
Learning from older colleagues at work

 “  I believe that with experience comes real
                                                            Gen Y recognises and values the importance of older
                                                            colleagues’ experience, which was by far the most

                                                     ”
               business knowledge.                          commonly used word when Gen Y described how older
                                                            colleagues could help them succeed in their career.
Older colleagues play an important role in Gen Y’s career   This term was typically used by itself, but was also used
success. When asked what they could learn from older        alongside a number of specific work-related skills and also
colleagues to help them succeed in their own career, Gen    to refer to general ‘life experience’.
Y locals described a number of skills, and several key
themes emerged from their responses:

                                                   Experience
         “I want to learn                          Hard work                            “Communicating
        how you make the                            Patience                             with customers
          right decision”                        Communication                               is key”
                                                 Decision-making

        “I need to develop                                                              “Life experience
            patience and                                                                is what they can
           perseverance”                                                                   teach me”

                            Figure 10: What can Generation Y learn from older colleagues?

                                                                                                                     17
“     Learning never stops and I’m learning
           something every day from my
                                                               Another important theme that emerged from the data
                                                               included the high value placed on older colleagues’
                                                               communication skills: communicating with staff,

                                                       ”
                 older colleagues.
                                                               managers, customers, and as one respondent noted:
                                                               “pesky colleagues”. A final theme that emerged was that
The Gen Y respondents also commonly describe the value         of older colleagues’ decision-making abilities – skills in
of learning from their older colleagues’ hard work attitude    judgement to make the right decision.
and high concentration levels as well as their devotion
to work. They describe older colleagues’ passion for work
and admire that they have a purposeful vision. Related
to this theme, Gen Y refer to the value of older colleagues’
high levels of patience and perseverance, recognising
that these traits are key to success at work.

Learning from Generation Y
When asked what older colleagues could learn from them to help them be more successful in their own jobs, Gen Y
locals feel they can play an important role in their older colleagues’ work success. Several key themes emerged from the
responses:

                                                                                                 “Keep learning
     “Older colleagues
                                                                                                all the time, even
     can learn positive
                                                                                                  when you are
      energy from us”
                                                                                                       older”

      “We can teach
                                                                                               “Managers should
       them modern
                                                                                               coach rather than
      communication
                                                                                                  command”
          skills”

                     Figure11: What can older colleagues learn from Gen Y to be more successful?

18
It is of particular interest that a number of the key skills       Gen Y believes their energy and ability with
described by Gen Y as something they can learn from                technology can help their older colleagues.
their older colleagues are the same skills they feel they can
teach them.                                                     The research findings highlight that Gen Y is eager
                                                                to learn from older colleagues, and believe that older
As well as Gen Y recognising the value of learning from         colleagues have valuable experiences and skills to
their older colleagues’ attitude and devotion to work, many     share. Organisations have the potential to harness
members of Gen Y described how older colleagues could           the demographic diversity in GCC countries, through
learn this from them – their hard work, their commitment        understanding differences in perspectives and effective
to work, and their determination and motivation.                knowledge transfer.
Furthermore, as well as Gen Y valuing older colleagues’
high level of patience, many also describe how older            Equally, older colleagues can learn from Gen Y. The ability
colleagues could learn patience from them. These findings       to share talents and knowledge rather than losing them,
highlight how human behaviour, consisting of individual         gives a significant competitive advantage that could be
perceptions and viewpoints, is complex and requires             harnessed by GCC organisations. It can start through
analysis and discussion at a one-to-one level to determine      better learning, collaboration and understanding, especially
individual solutions.                                           between Gen Y (offering a new style of communication and
                                                                IT skills) and older workers (with experience and patience).
In contrast, areas where Gen Y locals feel they can add
unique benefits to their older colleagues, is by helping
them to increase their speed in the workplace – making
decisions faster, providing a fast response, and in general,
                                                                 “     Be more open – share your ideas and

                                                                                                                       ”
                                                                     information with us, so we both succeed.
fast working. A final theme that emerged was that Gen Y
feel they can share their knowledge of new technology to
help their older colleagues.

                                                                                                                          19
Formal Learning
 and Development
20
6
Formal Learning and Development

Learning can be both informal and immediate, as well as
formal and structured. How do Gen Y employees in                Qualification programmes are seen as the
GCC countries want to learn and what do they value as           most important source of knowledge and
proof of their achievements?                                             learning for Gen Y locals.

                                                                                            Formal training
      Qualification                          Internet/electronic                             programmes
                                            information sources
      programmes                                                                                  83%
          85%                                         84%

       Figure 12: The importance5 of different sources of knowledge and learning to help Gen Y succeed at work

Valuable sources of knowledge and learning                  The findings were fairly consistent across all six GCC
Gen Y locals were asked the importance of various sources   countries, and across gender. However, there were some
of knowledge and learning to help them succeed at work.     notably significant differences:
Over 80% of Gen Y respondents report ‘qualification         •	Over half of Gen Y locals in Bahrain (56%) rate ‘informal
programmes’ and ‘formal training programmes’ as               training from colleagues’ as a very important source
‘important’. Around one-half of Gen Y respondents think       of knowledge and learning at work. This figure was
these sources are ‘very important’ (52% and 49% for           significantly higher than the percentage for all of the other
qualification programmes and formal training programmes       GCC countries.
respectively). Over 80% of Gen Y also report ‘internet/     •	Qualification programmes were viewed as significantly
electronic information sources’ are important (84%).          more important for Gen Y in Oman and Qatar than Gen Y
Other sources of knowledge and learning listed as             in other GCC countries.
‘important’ by over three-quarters of Gen Y include:        •	Company knowledge databases and networking events
‘executives/senior management’ (79%); ‘manager’ (78%);        were viewed as particularly important in the UAE, (78% of
‘company knowledge databases’ (77%); ‘family/parents’         Gen Y locals in the UAE view these as ‘important’).
(76%); and ‘informal training from colleagues’ (76%).

                                                                                                                        21
%                                             Very important

                         56                                   Informal training from colleagues
       Bahrain

                         58                                     Formal training programmes
        Kuwait

                         70                                      Qualification programmes
        Oman

                         64                                      Qualification programmes
        Qatar

                         56                               Internet/electronic information sources
     Saudi Arabia

                         40                                      Qualification programmes
         UAE

                         Table 6: ‘Very important’ sources of knowledge and learning at work (%)

What development does Generation Y want?                              38% of Gen Y in Bahrain feel they need
In the survey Gen Y locals were asked which skills they                 to develop ‘people skills’ and 36% of
feel are most important for them to develop in order to              those in UAE think ‘leadership skills’ need
help them succeed in their careers. Individual skills were                development for career success.
clustered into overall skill topics.

                              %        Bahrain        Kuwait          Oman           Qatar        Saudi Arabia   UAE
 People skills                            38             20             18             18             32         30
 Leadership skills                        14             28             28             20             22         36
 Team/Management skills                   18             24             22             30             18         16
 Business skills                          14             16             14              4              6          6
 Personal achievements                    16             12             18             28             22         12

                                  Table 7: Skills important to Gen Y to develop, by country (%)

‘People skills’ appear to be of particular importance
for Gen Y in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; ‘leadership
skills’ are a focus for Gen Y in the UAE, Kuwait and
Oman and ‘team/management skills’ and ‘personal
achievements’ for Gen Y in Qatar.

22
%               Male            Female
 People skills
 (including: Emotional intelligence; Influencing others; Resilience;            26                24               30
 Communication; Networking)
 Leadership skills
 (including: Leadership; Motivation of others; Coaching; Strategic              25                26               22
 thinking; Vision and direction)
 Team/Management skills
 (including: Decision-making; Working in a team; Performance                    21                23               19
 management; Developing others; Managing change)
 Personal achievements
 (including: Qualifications; International experience; Self-development         18                17               19
 and learning; Self-management; Personal effectiveness)
 Business skills
 (including: Business awareness; Business skills relevant to a sector;          10                10               10
 Technology use and exploitation; Political sensitivity)

                                Table 8: Skills important to Gen Y to develop, by gender (%)

The findings by gender show a fairly even distribution,          The diversity of experience in the workforce in GCC
with about a quarter of Gen Y reporting ‘people skills’,         countries has the potential to offer Gen Y significant
‘leadership skills’ and ‘team/management skills’ as              competitive advantage in their careers. Those responsible
important to develop. People skills appear to be more            for learning and development need to adapt their
important to females (selected by 30%) than males (24%).         approaches to include the topics and sources of
                                                                 knowledge that members of Gen Y really feel will help
Those who want to develop people skills were typically           them succeed at work. Gen Y workers seem to value a
referring to ‘influencing others’ (32%) and ‘communication       more holistic approach to learning combining a range of
skills’ (28%). ‘Leadership skills’ referred simply to            formal and informal sources, but still with the emphasis of
‘leadership’ (35%). ‘Working in a team’ (31%) and                receiving a qualification as a result.
‘performance management’ (28%) were the key areas of
‘team and management skills’ and ‘technology use and
exploitation’ (47%) was a critical area within ‘business
skills’. ‘Personal achievements’ focused on measureable
qualifications (32%) and ‘self-development and learning’
(35%).

Topics such as ‘influencing others’ and ‘working in a team’
are areas in which members of Gen Y believe they need
development. These needs point to subjects which leaders
could explore with their own Gen Y employees when
discussing career development plans. Individuals may or
may not desire or need the gender- or country-specific
skills found in this survey, but the research highlights an
excellent starting point for discussions into development.

                                                                                                                          23
Generation Y and
     their managers
24
7
Generation Y and their Managers

                                                                 “
What sort of manager does Generation Y want?
In the Gulf, Gen Y locals have a mixture of local and
                                                                 Good manager interaction with staff is more
expatriate managers, and also work for bosses who range

                                                                                                          ”
                                                                       important than anything else.
from their own generation to those two generations older.
In the survey Gen Y locals were asked to describe the
‘current’ and the ‘ideal’ leadership style of their managers6.

        Commanding                                               Visionary / Democratic

                                   Figure 13: What style of manager does Gen Y want?            
                                                                                                               25
CURRENT                                     IDEAL
                                                           Leadership style                         Leadership style
                                                             of manager                               of manager
 Commanding
                                                                   32                                     15
 (“do what I tell you”)
 Visionary
                                                                   21                                     30
 (“come with me”)
 Affiliative
                                                                   11                                     12
 (“people come first”)
 Democratic
                                                                   20                                     27
 (“what do you think?”)
 Pacesetting
                                                                    5                                        4
 (“do as I do, now”)
 Coaching
                                                                   10                                     12
 (“try this”)

                Table 9: How Gen Y describe the ‘current’ and the ‘ideal’ leadership style of their manager (%)

                        Bahrain             Kuwait           Oman                Qatar        Saudi Arabia            UAE

                      Now     Ideal      Now     Ideal   Now      Ideal   Now       Ideal     Now      Ideal     Now    Ideal

 Commanding            32      24         40       6       26      14       40           18    34       16       20         14

 Visionary             20      20         20      38       26      28       14           32    24       24       24         38

 Democratic            20      30         18      16       18      28       24           30    18       38       24         18

                                      Table 10: Leadership style of manager, by country (%)

Gen Y describe how they want ‘visionary’, ‘democratic’           but only 6% see this as ideal. Instead the Kuwaitis are
managers rather than the ‘commanding’ managers that              looking for visionary management.
many have currently.
                                                                 Interestingly, with the exception of Kuwait, a coaching
When looking at the findings by country, Gen Y in Bahrain,       manager is not highly sought after in GCC respondents,
Saudi Arabia and Oman want a ‘democratic’ manager                despite the fact that this is a general desire of Gen Y
and Gen Y in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE want a              worldwide7,8.
‘visionary’ manager. Looking at the difference between the
current and ideal behaviour in a manager, Oman shows the
closest match. The biggest mismatch is in Kuwait where                     Gen Y wants more visionary and
                                                                               democratic managers.
40% see their managers as having a commanding style

26
Commanding
                                 Commanding
                                     35 %
                                   Commanding
                                     30
                                    35
                                      25
                                     30
                                      20
                                     25
   Coaching
      Coaching                                                      Visionary
                                                                   Visionary
                                      15
                                     20
        Coaching                                                  Visionary
                                      10
                                     15
                                     105
                                                                                           Male Current
                                      50
                                                                                           Male
                                                                                           MaleCurrent
                                                                                                Ideal
                                      0
                                                                                           Male Ideal

                                                                    Affiliative
Pacesetting
    Pacesetting                                                    Affiliative
      Pacesetting                                                 Affiliative

                                 Democratic
                                  Democratic                                         Male current
                                    Democratic                                       Male ideal

                                  Commanding
                             Commanding
                                 35
                               Commanding
                                    30%
                                   35
                                    25
                                   30
         Coaching                   20
                                   25                            Visionary
                                    15
                                   20
  Coaching
     Coaching
                                    10
                                   15
                                                                 Visionary
                                                                Visionary

                                   105                                                   Female Current
                                     50
                                                                                         Female
                                                                                          FemaleCurrent
                                                                                                 Ideal
                                     0
                                                                                         Female Ideal

      Pacesetting                                                Affiliative
      Pacesetting                                                Affiliative
                                                                Affiliative
Pacesetting

                                   Democratic
                                   Democratic
                              Democratic
                                                                                     Female current
                                                                                     Female ideal

       Figure 14: ‘Current’ and ‘ideal’ leadership style of manager, by gender (%)

                                                                                                        27
Overall Gen Y females show a desire for greater changes in        There are some further notable differences when the
their managers’ style and approach to them as employees           findings are explored by gender in each country:
than males do. Looking at the three highest scoring types         • Males in the UAE and Kuwait in particular are looking for
of manager (‘commanding’, ‘visionary’ and ‘democratic’)              a much stronger ‘visionary’ manager
as viewed by gender, it is clear that females want a drop         • Females across the GCC countries also want a manager
in 'commanding' manager style more than their male                   who is more ‘visionary’ than they have currently
counterparts. However, ‘commanding’ is the one manager            • Males in Saudi Arabia stand out as seeking a
type that shows the strongest desire to change across both           ‘democratic’ manager. Otherwise males are generally
genders and is therefore an area for managers to investigate         accepting of the level of democracy shown by their
in terms of their style and how they are perceived.                  managers
                                                                  • Females in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are
 Gen Y females show a desire for greater changes                     also looking for stronger ‘democratic’ management
 in their managers’ style and approach to them as                    but females in the UAE and Kuwait are looking less for
            employees than males do.                                 democracy than other countries.

                                                                                                                          %

 Leadership skills: (including: Leadership; Motivation of others; Coaching; Strategic thinking; Vision and direction)    33

 Team/Management skills: (including: Decision-making; Working in a team; Performance management;
                                                                                                                         27
 Developing others; Managing change)

 People skills: (including: Emotional intelligence; Influencing others; Resilience; Communication; Networking)           24

 Personal achievements: (including: Qualifications; International experience; Self-development and learning;
                                                                                                                          8
 Self-management; Personal effectiveness)
 Business skills: (including: Business awareness; Business skills relevant to a sector; Technology use and
                                                                                                                          8
 exploitation; Political sensitivity)

                               Table 11: Skills Gen Y feels their managers should develop (%)

Where should managers focus their own                             just under one-quarter want their managers to develop
development?                                                      their ‘people skills’ (24%), in order to help Gen Y become
As well as focusing on the skills they want to develop            future leaders. There are very similar findings for males and
themselves, Gen Y locals were also asked what skills              females. One difference is that the need for managers to
they feel are most important for their manager to develop         develop ‘team/management skills’ appears to be more
in order to help them succeed. As in the earlier section,         important to females (32%) than to males (25%).
individual skills were clustered into overall skill topics. The
findings show one-third of Gen Y want their managers to
improve ‘leadership skills’ (33%). Over one-quarter want                 36% of Gen Y want their managers to
them to develop ‘team/management skills’ (27%) and                        improve their ‘motivation of others’.

28
%

                          38                                             People skills
     Bahrain

                          42                                           Leadership skills
     Kuwait

                          30                                           Leadership skills
      Oman

                          52                                      Team/Management skills
      Qatar

                          40                                           Leadership skills
  Saudi Arabia

                          36                             Leadership skills - Team/Management skills
       UAE

                 Table 12: Most important skill Gen Y feels their manager should develop, by country (%)

Gen Y who want managers to develop their ‘team/                  It is clear from the experience of Gen Y in GCC countries
management skills’ were referring to all aspects of this skill   that the leadership style of their managers is more
set, including: ‘working in a team’ (27%); ‘performance          commanding and directive than their ideal. Gen Y is more
management’ (24%); and ‘developing others’ (24%). The            interested in their leaders providing a vision and giving
most important ‘leadership’ skill Gen Y want their managers      them with the opportunity to contribute their views and
to develop is the ‘motivation of others’ (36%). The ‘people’     thoughts. It may be that their managers developed their
skills they value typically refer to ‘resilience’ (30%).         leaderships skills at a different time based on their own
                                                                 organisational experience or the traditions of their own
Gen Y in Bahrain want their manager to develop their             national culture (both local and expatriate). There are
‘people skills’ whereas Gen Y in Kuwait, Oman and Saudi          opportunities for managers to review their leadership style
Arabia want their managers to develop their ‘leadership          to gain the most from Gen Y and to further increase the
skills’; Gen Y in Qatar want their managers to develop           motivation of this generation.
their ‘team/management skills’; and Gen Y in the UAE

                                                                  “
want their managers to develop both ‘leadership’ and their

                                                                                                                       ”
‘team/management skills’.                                                       Teach us to be leaders.

                                                                                                                          29
Conclusions and
 Recommendations
30
8
Conclusions and Recommendations

 “  Give us a chance to become tomorrow’s
                  professionals.
                                                             conversations between individuals and their managers
                                                             to explore their different perspectives will be of benefit.

Managers in the GCC countries have enormous
                                                       ”     Understanding is required from both sides. Even though
                                                             the Gen Y workforce is significant, there is a need for
                                                             this group to manage and adapt their expectations to
opportunities to engage with the highly-motivated Gen Y      the realities of working in the Gulf. At the same time their
workforce, who are intrinsically motivated to succeed. The   managers need to review their own approaches to working
young people are keen to gain qualifications and promotion   with Gen Y.
and are prepared to work hard. They have a rich source

                                                              “
of multinational experience to draw upon from their older
colleagues and value that experience and their decision-             Mixing previous experience from you
making capabilities. They want to learn leadership,                  and current experience from me will

                                                                                                                    ”
influencing and managing teams. In turn, they feel they                       generate success.
can share new approaches to communication, meetings,
technology and their relationships with their managers.
Ideally they are looking for visionary and democratic        The research points to differences in perspective and
managers, with improved people motivation and leadership     needs in different countries and by gender, and it is
capabilities. Women in particular are looking for greater    important to recognise that each individual, whether
changes away from a ‘commanding’ manager style.              manager or Gen Y employee, requires a tailored approach
                                                             to career success.
Gen Y are not afraid ‘to speak their mind’ and voice their
opinions on change. At the same time they seek help          Overall, there is enormous potential for Gen Y to be
in bolstering their internal self-confidence and sense of    the most highly successful generation in the Gulf.
value to the organisation. There is evidence that two-way

                                                                                                                      31
Endnotes

     1
         	Honoré, S. and Paine Schofield, C. (2012) “Culture Shock: Generation Y and their Managers Around the
          World”. Ashridge Business School Research Report.

     2
         	% of Gen Y respondents who ranked each item in their top three factors of what career success means
          to them.

         Honoré, S. and Paine Schofield, C. (2009) “Generation Y: Inside Out. A multi-generational view of Generation
     3 	

         Y – learning and working”. Ashridge Business School Research Report;

     4 	
         Honoré, S. and Paine Schofield, C. (2012) “Culture Shock: Generation Y and their Managers Around the
         World”. Ashridge Business School Research Report.

     5
         NET Importance is the sum of ‘important’ and ‘very important’ scores

     6
         	Response options were based on Daniel Goleman’s model of six leadership styles (Goleman, D.,
           (2000) “Leadership that Gets Results” Harvard Business Review. March-April 2000 p. 82-83).

     7
         	Honoré, S. and Paine Schofield, C. (2012) “Culture Shock: Generation Y and their Managers Around
            the World”. Ashridge Business School Research Report;

     8
         	“Great Expectations: Managing Generation Y” (2011). Institute of Leadership & Management and
          Ashridge Business School Report.

32
Appendix I: About this Research

Methodology
In July 2014, an email invitation with a link to an anonymous questionnaire was administered via an
external provider to an online research panel of local Gen Y graduate employees aged under 30 years in
each of the six GCC countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The survey was
made available in English and Arabic.

The survey consisted of nine demographic questions (country of residence, age, gender, length of time
working since full time education, employer sector, size of organisation, industry sector, net income,
marital status). They were followed by 11 closed-ended questions (including multiple choice, rating scale
and ranking scale). Three open-ended questions were also included. The survey aimed to explore a
number of key areas which were based on: our findings to date; the relevant existing literature; and on
questions asked by existing and potential clients. The key survey topics included: the pressure of success,
what is important to Gen Y in terms of career success, sources and format of learning and development,
and relationships with and mutual learning opportunities with older colleagues.

Respondents
A total of 300 local Gen Y employees from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
responded to the survey. The number of respondents was equal for each country (50). The group was
made up of more males (62%) than females (38%). Over half of respondents worked in the private sector
(61%) with the remainder working in the public (30%) or third sector (9%). Two-thirds of respondents (66%)
have been working for less than five years.

Research notes
• When interpreting the findings, it is important to remember that the results are based on the opinions of
  those who took part in the survey and not the entire population of local Gen Y employees.
• Any ‘significant’ differences referred to in the report are statistically significant (p
Appendix II: Previous Ashridge
     Generation Y Research

     The present research builds upon previous Ashridge research into Generation Y. At Ashridge our research
     into Gen Y goes beyond the media hype and stereotypes and looks at any differences between the
     generations in depth. Our research investigates:
     • Is Gen Y actually different from previous generations? What has made them the way they are?
     • What does Gen Y want from work and from their managers?
     • Where are the conflicts and issues between generations?
     • What are the appropriate ways of working with and developing this generation?

     Our research programme has produced four previous reports:

     The Millennial Compass: Truths about the 30-and-under generation in the
     workplace                                                                                          The Millennial Compass
                                                                                                        Truths about the 30-and-Under Millennial Generation in the Workplace

     Research conducted in 2014 in partnership with MSLGROUP explored workplace dynamics
     across the globe, with insights from millennials in Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the
     USA. An online survey and follow-up interviews examined what is most important to today’s
     younger workers, what they want in their relationships with managers and their expectations.

     Culture Shock: Generation Y and their managers around the world                                                                                  CULTURE SHOCK
                                                                                                                                                  Generation Y and their
                                                                                                                                              managers around the world

     Research conducted in 2012 explored Gen Y outside of the Western world (focusing on
     the Middle East, India, Malaysia and China). Online surveys, focus groups and interviews
     researched the manager-graduate relationship in the first few years of work and expectations                                                                                     Sue Honoré
                                                                                                                                                                           Carina Paine Schofield

                                                                                                                                                                                 November 2012

     of managers, graduates and organisations for their future leaders.

     Great Expectations: Managing Generation Y
     Research conducted in 2011 in partnership with the Institute of Leadership & Management
                                                                                                        Institute of Leadership
                                                                                                        & Management and
                                                                                                        Ashridge Business School

                                                                                                        Great
                                                                                                        expectations:
     (ILM) explored Gen Y’s expectations of work and the challenges of managing this                    managing
                                                                                                        Generation Y

     generation. Quantitative data were collected through an online survey covering two groups
     of participants – graduate employees and the managers who have day-to-day experience of
     working with and supervising them. The research population was largely based in the
     UK/Europe.

     Generation Y: Learning and working
     In 2009 Ashridge conducted a research project into Gen Y’s attitudes and behaviour.
     Qualitative (focus groups and interviews) and quantitative (online survey) methods were used
     to collect data from participants of all generations (from Gen Y to Baby Boomers), providing
     a multi-generational view of Gen Y learning and working including myths and realities about
     behaviour.

     All of the above reports can be downloaded from www.ashridge.org.uk/genyresearch

34
About Ashridge
Established in 1959, Ashridge is one of the world’s leading business schools, with an international reputation for
world-class executive education and management development.

Its activities include open and custom executive education programmes, graduate programmes, organisation
development, online learning and applied research. Our approach is practical and results-driven, yet underpinned
by in-depth insight and research based firmly in the real world, generated through working with business leaders
across the globe.

Rankings
Ashridge is ranked as one of the top 20 business schools in the world by both the Financial Times 2014 and
Bloomberg Business Week 2013.

Accreditations
Ashridge is accredited by AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB – just 1% of business schools worldwide have this triple
accreditation.

                                   EFMD

                                                                                                                     35
Designed by Ashridge Design Studio 10/14
About this report
This GCC Generation Y research, conducted in 2014 by the experienced
Ashridge Business School team, examines the successes and aspirations of
young people at work in their local environments in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It is based on an online survey examining a
range of topics from drivers of success to learning and working relationships
with other employees. The report provides up-to-date region-centric research,
which will provide insights for a range of stakeholders including Generation Y
and employers and managers of Generation Y in the Middle East.

Research Department
Ashridge Business School
Berkhamsted
Hertfordshire HP4 1NS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1442 841178
Email: research@ashridge.org.uk
www.ashridge.org.uk/research
Printed on paper that is 100% recycled or from sustainable sources.   Registered as Ashridge (Bonar Law Memorial) Trust.
Ashridge is committed to sustainable development:                                               Charity number 311096.
www.ashridge.org.uk/sustainabilty
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