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Feb 1, 201812:33 PMMosaic Marketplace

with Deborah Biddle — A blog for diverse business enterprises in and around Madison.

How to leverage multigenerational differences

(page 2 of 2)

When working to reduce the impact of generational differences, leaders should:

  • Demonstrate flexibility. Different age groups have varying personal and professional needs. Be sure to create a workplace that is open and flexible to diverse ways of thinking and working, as well as work attitudes.
  • Vary communication method. Leaders and team members must be sure to use multiple communication channels when addressing their employees, including different meeting formats, personal communication styles, and digital media use.
  • Know employee feedback preferences. As different generations bring new expectations to the office, frequent feedback, evaluation, and encouragement will be increasingly important for managers to implement as part of the daily work routines while balancing less frequent needs among more senior team members.
  • Create space for knowledge sharing. Encourage traditionalists and baby boomers to act as career mentors for Gens X, Y, and Z, as well as inviting each generation to mentor the next generation below them. At the same time, create an atmosphere of idea sharing and openness where employees are heard and encouraged to try new processes and procedures without fear of job loss. Foster a culture of inspiration and innovation led by Gens X, Y and Z, and embraced by traditionalists and baby boomers.
  • Focus on goals and set clear expectations. Each generation brings strengths and opportunities in its approach to the work at hand. Clear goals and expectations put each team member on an even playing field. Without micromanaging, set the goal and expectation and allow problem solving to occur without dampening enthusiasm.
  • Mentoring and inclusion. Encourage cross-generational mentoring. Each one has different strengths, experiences, and knowledge. Inclusion helps use those differences to improve teamwork and obtain faster results.
  • Break the bond of tradition. If there is a better way to do something, take the suggestion. Although five generations may be part of the team, the best idea should always be taken. Taking the opinion of the senior-most person in the room when a better idea is presented may very well lead you to slower or no progress.
  • Show employees the future. Tell employees where the organization is going, how they fit in, and how to prepare. Encouraging career planning for those with a number of years ahead and retirement planning for those getting ready for it will help to engage workers in the here and now, as well as the long-term possibilities. Employees tend to work harder to achieve organizational goals when they understand how it leads them on a path to their professional goals.
  • Encourage balance. Employees of all ages place a high value on balancing their work and personal lives. However, depending on their generation, balance will look differently. Leaving work before the kids come home, taking full weeks or a month for a vacation, flexible work hours, and working from home are generational preferences. Asking employees what they prefer in order to maintain work-life balance will help you manage generational needs, ultimately leading to employees working hard to achieve the businesses goals.

From an organizational behavior management perspective, many issues can be affected by generational differences: turnover, recruitment, morale, team building, communication, and the effectiveness of rewards, feedback, and ultimately achieving organizational objectives. How well leaders manage these differences today will determine how successful businesses will be in the future. Today’s leaders are asked to manage diversity, including generational difference, with sensitivity, competence, and an eye to inclusion and development.

I know that every person is unique with different values, knowledge, and experience. I also know that we cannot generalize and lump everyone into classifications that do not quite fully or accurately represent the spectrum of workers. But, for the sake of imparting helpful change-focused information, I took the risk because understanding the trends helps us to better understand some of the pitfalls to avoid and find common ground for working together to improve our workplaces.

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