Multi-generational management refers to managing the four generations of employees that are now entering the workforce and to no surprise, one-size does not fit all.
Each group is uniquely individual. Today’s multigenerational workforce includes the Pre-Boomers (Born 1925-1945), also known as The Silent Generation Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964), Generation X (Born 1965-1976), and Generation Y, also know as The Millennials (Born 1977-1994)
There’s the fresh-faced younger generation of newcomers, the established middle generation that holds most of the management roles and the older generation of senior executives who are 30 or 40 years into their careers. Each of these distinct age groups comes with their own generational differences, which can cause some friction among colleagues and bosses. Distinct differences in values, communication styles and work habits of each generation are becoming increasingly pronounced. Adding to the mix is a the post-millennials— known to some as Generation Z. Quickly approaching college age, this next generation will be joining the ranks of working professionals within the next few years. Leaders must be ready to take on the challenge of integrating newer workers while still respecting the seniority and experience of older ones.
Here are the Biggest Challenges Coming Out of Today’s Modern Day Workforce and How Effective Leaders Deal With Them – Head On.
Communication style – The difference in preferred communication styles between older and younger generations has almost become a cliché. Generation Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messages to communicate, while baby boomers and older Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. The stark differences in styles have created recipes for serious communication breakdowns.Older workers have been accustomed to communicating, particularly to senior management, with much more formality. In most instances, they equate this formality in communication with respect. When they’re not [given] the same formality [in communications], they may misinterpret this as a “lack of respect.” Leaders should focus on making concerted efforts to communicate with their colleagues in the ways each person prefers. Bringing staff members of different generations together for face-to-face team-building exercises is an effective ice breaker and helps break down some of the barriers that can occur with digital communications.
Negative Stereotype – Lazy. Entitled. Tech obsessed. Overeager. These are just a few of the terms that come to mind for many older workers when they think of millennials, and this generation is well aware of the stereotypical judgments they’re up against. In most instances, the older workers’ experience is valuable, but can also become an obstacle if they rely on “been there, done that” attitudes that preclude new ideas. Younger workers’ enthusiasm and willingness to try new things need to be encouraged by leaders, but also channeled. They may not have the perspective to understand all the costs and risks associated with the opportunities they wish to pursue. Leaders can easily manage this multi-generational workforce situation by actively intervening when there’s a dysfunction in the workplace caused by misunderstandings and generational judgments. Selecting strong leaders to assist in sustaining the overall collaboration of multi-generational teams is vital to the success of a company.
Cultural expectations – In today’s modern-day workforce older workers are used to having performance measured by the number of hours spent at their desk. However, your well-honed work ethic of being an early bird to the office, might not impress many younger managers, who feel time spent in the office is not as vital as the results you produce. Generation Y values and expects a healthy work-life balance. They more likely come from families where both parents were working, and therefore place a greater premium on work-life balance. The challenge companies face with cultural diversification can be easily overcome. Leaders should understand that everyone wants recognition for the work they do, access to the resources they need and feedback that is delivered in an appropriate way.
A successful office should be a melting pot of different generations, personalities and talent, all coming together toward a common goal. That is the only way a company will ensure they are bringing fresh perspectives to oftentimes common problems.
For true, sustained progress to occur in the multigenerational workforce, flexibility and openness on the part of every age group is critical. Each generation brings their own set of skills and cultural norms. Making great management hires is very important in sustaining a productive and successful work environment.