Leveraging the Strength of Your Multi-Generational Team
Leveraging the Strength of Your Multi-Generational Team
From the progression of modern technology, to the rise in global connectedness, the modern workplace has clearly adapted into a unique environment unlike any other time in history. What may be most unique and important to recognize about the current work dynamic, is that today, for the first time in history, four distinct generations work side by side in almost every organization. To ensure that your organization is operating at its full potential – it is integral that each of these generations are present within your organization, and that the values and capabilities of each generation are leveraged.
In offices across the globe, one can find members of each of the following generational groups working in a multitude of positions; Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. While there is no doubt that there is diversity within each of these groups, recognizing several key attributes of each generation, and several strategies to accommodate these qualities and minimize differences, can significantly contribute to an organization’s success. Conversely, failure to recognize these unique qualities can hinder the overall success of employees, teams and organizations as a whole.
A look at the four generations in the workplace:
Traditionalists (born before 1946) – Having essentially forged what is recognized as the 40 hour work week and spending most of their career with few employers, Traditionalists have come to value loyalty, defined roles, frugality and personnel discretion at the workplace. By providing Traditionalists with clear objectives, plainly laid out strategies and well defined roles, organizations can benefit from the wisdom, experience and dedication of this accomplished group of people. Although these individuals are nearing retirement it is important to gain from their knowledge before they leave the workforce.
Quick Tip: Use your own personal touch and handwrite a letter of appreciation to your Traditionalists. Remember, they want to work in an atmosphere with living human beings, not just emails, text messages, faxes, and voicemails.
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – Boomers represent the largest majority of upper management in today’s organizations. Seventy six million hard working Boomers paved the way for 60 hour work weeks, competitive strategies, and a deep sense of loyalty to ones company. Boomers are the first generation to place a higher priority on work life instead of home life. The Boomers grew up in a time of growth an expansion and witnessed one of the greatest economic expansions seen in the US and Canada. This generation wanted to ensure that everything they did not have growing up was provided for their children.
Much like the Traditionalists the Boomers also enjoy working in an environment that is social, and prefer the “old fashioned” in person meeting over electronic correspondence and phone calls. They value personal growth and are known as lifelong learners, ensure that they have learning and development opportunities available to them and provide them with opportunities to mentor your high performing Gen X’s and Gen Y’s so their knowledge is not lost once they retire.
Quick Tip: If you want to motivate your Boomers it is important that you give them public recognition, reward their work ethic and long hours and place value in the expertise they bring to the table .Work-life balance and independence is now becoming more important to the Boomer generation. Flexing your management style and initiating ways to help your Boomers continue to grow and work in your organization, while allowing them to enjoy more of their personal life will retain the high quality workers that have helped to shape your organization.
Generation X (1965- 1980) –They are the first generation to be raised by their television, while their dual income parents were out influencing and changing the corporate world. Witnessing their hardworking parents caused Generation X to invent work/ life balance. Gen X’s are extremely independent and possess very strong technical skills. This Generation grew up with corporate downsizing and corrupt government, they are used to and expect change and they believe in having a multitude of careers.
Be sure to inquire about what motivates this generation, after all, once the Baby Boomers retire this generation will be taking over senior level management positions, and you want to retain your high performing Gen Xers.
Quick Tip: This generation does not like to be micromanaged, so give them various projects and allow them to prioritize and manage the projects in their own way, leaving room for their own personal creativity. Give them opportunities and the freedom to pursue their personal interests and make work enjoyable, fun and balanced. Majority of your Generation X employees are goal-oriented, therefore presenting them with unique and challenging opportunities will help to enhance both their leadership and management skills. Once your Gen X’s have yielded successful results from these opportunities, you will see an increase in initiative, confidence and the desire to become leaders at your organization.
Generation Y (1981-2000) – This generation comes from a time of rapid growth in the internet, they have seen significant gains in educational programming, technology, computer science and social networking. They were raised during the most child- centric time in history, so expect high maintenance workplace preferences, a need for instant gratification and be prepared to negotiate with them. They are bright, fast paced, adaptable to change, and they want to move up in your organization at a faster pace than most. Give them feedback, set out timelines, support their entrepreneurial ideas and reward them intelligently.
Quick Tip: Gen Y’s are technologically savvy, well educated and full of energy. They offer a lot of knowledge, but it is important that they are put on generationally diverse teams that compliment their strengths, allow their viewpoints to be heard and provide guidance and mentorship. They are motivated by material things and love to be rewarded. Generation Y wants to feel that they are on an equal playing field within your organization, and because making them the CEO in their first week is not an option, managing these workers with a “were a team and building this company together” attitude, will instil ownership over their work and create dedicated, hardworking and reliable Gen Y workers in your organization.
Submitted by Lisa Mattam