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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Management Dynamics: 7 Ways to Manage Different Generations

Nowadays, walking into the workplace, you are likely to come across a range of different generations depending on the industry. Vast and rapid advancements in technology as well as delayed retirement ages have resulted in up to 5 generations being present in the workplace. [2] This changes workplace dynamics up quite a bit; presenting challenges for management when running teams with these differences.  

 

Let’s start with defining these generations and the tendencies they are likely to lean towards. 

Now, keep in mind, these are generalizations based on studies and cannot be applied to everyone in these generations- we are all still individuals here!

 

[3]

 

  

Managing a team with such different individual experiences, skills, and preferences can be quite a headache when you are trying to consider everyone’s specific needs. The best way to approach this is to look at it as a HUGE advantage.  Managing all comes down to how you harness this positive force of diversity in your workplace. 

 

 

Here are a few suggestions:

 

1- Embrace the value each generation brings to the table.  

 

If your target consumer market includes all these different generations on some level, then you have your target market’s opinions right at your fingertips. When your company is releasing a new product, launching a new campaign, or looking to attract a new audience, you can utilize your employees as they may be in your targeted audience.  

 

Diversity breeds innovation. When you need help with product and process improvements, you should consider arranging your teams to include combinations of each generation and encourage them to collaborate and share ideas.  If a group of people of the same experiences, generation, race, etc. come together to think of new ideas, they may come up with some great ones. However, true innovation will come when people from different backgrounds can come together, share their experiences, brainstorm, and expand on one another’s ideas.

 

2- Acknowledge Strengths

 

Too many times we make jokes about “those darn millennials” or how older generations may struggle with “the cloud.” While these jokes may be funny to some, they are only going to downplay the strengths each these groups.  

 

For example, older generations may struggle to keep up with technology, but they can rely on their new generation counterparts to help them out whenever they need to figure out where their document got lost in the cloud rather than just struggling.  Encourage each generation to use their strengths to help/prevent their counterparts from struggling within the office. On the other side of this, sometimes technology does fail us, and a system may be down temporarily. This is when the generations who did everything manually can step in and help the technology-reliant generations with how to continue being productive until the system is restored. [2]  

 

Encourage teamwork and discourage generation-based stereotypical jokes. We all know the stereotypes of each generation; we’ve heard probably all of the jokes, now let’s play on each other’s strengths and avoid the underlying animosity these jokes may generate. [3]

 

3- Do Not Assume or Generalize.

 

Just because I gave a basic outline of generational habits and preferences, it does not mean your employees within these generations will fit into those little boxes. [3] Nor should you place them into those boxes. Even as I was compiling the information for that chart, I found myself saying “wait, that’s not me, I’m not like that.” Likewise, you should not do that to your employees.

 

Rather, give them a chance to tell you how they like to interact, be motivated, etc. During an interview for my previous company, I had to complete a Culture Index (essentially a workplace personality test). [1] The results determined if I had the tendencies for the job (introvert/extrovert, logical /emotional based, etc.). This test was also used to see if I would be compatible to work with the team they already had in place. Finally, the company would recommend having your results posted in your workspace (they also had it online available on their online portal), so others could understand how you work and process.

 

This helped deter a lot of office drama because people would learn “Susan” was not “stand-offish” when she lacked eye contact or spoke little- she was just introverted and preferred to communicate via email.

 

Giving your employees this assessment can also give them a chance to show how they like to be communicated with, how they tend to think, and why they interact a certain way.  This is extremely valuable not only for you, but for their fellow employees. Keep in mind, this will also help you from generalizing your employees into these generational stereotypes and help you to manage them better in the long run!

 

4- Upgrade your workplace communication practices.

 

Communication is going to be a major part of building a cohesive team and needs to be a priority within management.  Though the blog post, 5 Ways to Revamp Communication in Your Workplace, is not specifically about managing different generations it has some great tips on improving communication, building company culture, opening communication channels, and educating your team.

 

5- Build a mutual mentorship program.

 

Mentorships can be extremely valuable, but have you ever heard of a mutual mentorship? This is where you bring together two very differently experienced people, maybe of two different generations, to work together and learn from one another. 

They learn an understanding of each other’s thought processes, share skills, and experiences, etc. [3] This can be a very mutually beneficial program that builds team morale throughout the company as well.

 

6- Survey. Survey. Survey.

 

Offer your employees a chance to be heard anonymously. Some generations are more passive, some people are shyer, and some employees fear speaking up because of consequences. Offer your employees a chance to make suggestions for a better workplace anonomously. With up to five different generations in one space, you need to offer different avenues of communication; surveying your employees is a great start. [2]

 

This survey can be multiple-choice, Likert scale, short answer, or a combination depending on how in-depth you want your feedback to be. Just like everyone has a different style they learn best in (visual, audible, hands-on), people communicate differently so these varying avenues are important.  

 

7- Be a scientist!

 

No, I’m not talking Frankenstein-style… Leave your employees intact, please. 

Experiment with your management techniques by making micro-changes. This means making small adjustments, sometimes large ones, as you learn about your team and their needs. If round-table collaboration is difficult with people talking over one-another, tweak it into smaller teams, or have a method where only one person communicates at a time. The best way to optimally manage your team is to be open to trial and change.  

 

Study your employees and what works best for them and continue to adjust until you find the perfect practices.[3] Honestly, you may never find the PERFECT workplace practices, so adjustments may always be made. Make change an active part of your management style and do not give it the stigma of being a bad thing!

 

 

 

In conclusion, consider your employee and their experience. This consideration will bring more value to your management techniques as you can play to their strengths and create an optimal workplace for each generation to thrive. Embrace the strengths of each generation by getting to know your employees without generalizing them based on stereotypes. Innovation is formulated in diversity so create spaces for collaboration between differing generations.  

 

Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to comment anything you may have to add or ask! Be sure to subscribe for email updates on when REVEX posts a new blog!

 



Dani Barry

Marketing Manager

REVEX

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[1] “Culture Index Inc.” Culture Index, www.cindexinc.com/.

[2] Frey, Emma. “Managing Five Generations in the Workplace.” BSCAI, Building Service Contractors Association International, 31 Oct. 2017, www.bscai.org/Contractor-Connections-Hub/BSCAI-News/managing-five-generations-in-the-workplace.

[3] Knight, Rebecca. “Managing People from 5 Generations.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing, 12 Aug. 2015, hbr.org/2014/09/managing-people-from-5-generations.


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