Acing the art of managing a multi-generational workforce
Workplaces today house an expansive range of employees in terms of their age groups, especially mid-sized and large organizations with employee count surpassing a few thousands. You can find baby boomers, Gen Xs, Gen Ys and Millennials all under one roof, often even in the same team. Hope you can already sense the dilemma and chaos that managers and leaders face while managing such a diverse workforce.
The diversity owing to varied age group give rise to an unconscious bias and set of challenges. Imagine a team where you have people from all sets of age group, from the Gen Zs (fresh college grads), Gen Ys (the 90’s born), Millennials (born in the 80’s), Gen Xs (the 70’s born) and the Baby boomers (the 60’s born). Every generation has a different approach towards work and learning, different priorities and ideologies when it comes to workplace culture and expectations. Evidently, there’s a looming generation gap, which often leads to discrepancies in the team and lack of productivity and efficiency.
While for Gen Y and onwards, workplace satisfaction, work-life balance, digitization, tech savvy workplace, flexibility, learning on the go (preferably self-paced), etc. matters a great deal. Whereas, for those from Gen X and Baby boomers give a higher priority to traditional workplaces practices, paper-work and classroom-based learning. These are just some of the differences that can be noticed. And all these lead to creating pre-conceptions among the employees about their peers from different generations.
Now the question before the managers is how to deal with such a diverse workforce. You cannot neglect any of these sections of the workforce, for you need the experience and prodigy of the Baby boomers and Gen X as well as the fresh and out of the box ideas and the go-getter attitude of the Gen Y, Millennials and the Gen Zs. So, how do you get all of them work together in a team, as a team? Let’s look at some ways you can master the game of overcoming generational issues with your team and lead it on.
Find commonalities: Find more common elements in the team and keep focusing on them rather than pointing out the differences. This will help build a bond and feeling of oneness among the team members. This will also help them connect with each other and understand each other better. Establishing a sense of commonness will build collaboration skills as well as trust across the generations.
Avoid stereotyping and labelling: As a leader, it is important that you avoid differentiating or labelling your team based on their age group. This creates an unwanted bias and discrimination, which the team members often find disturbing. All ending up hurting the team spirit and productivity at large. Instead, your goal should be to bring the team together despite their generational and mindset differences. This way you can make the age gap seem insignificant and focus on building a stronger and focused team.
Learning & mentoring sessions: You can organize occasional mentoring and learning sessions to bridge the learning and development gaps. It is essential that the team has an active participation in these sessions, not only in terms of learning skills but also mentoring each other to be at par. Both the younger and older generations have a lot to mentor and train one another. While the older generation is storehouse of significant insight of career growth, organizational values and culture, the younger generation is a Pandora’s box of knowledge of new technologies and gadgets alongside fresh and innovative ideas. A collaborative exchange of knowledge is a sauce that you add to cook the perfect team.
Mix and match: While making teams for projects keep a balanced mix of the generations so that you have the right skills at every level. Let everyone have a fair chance of leading and planning. The more opportunities they have to expand their horizons, the less the age differences will matter. Let the skill decide the project lead not the seniority based on age or years of service.
One size fits all no more: Gone are the days when the one-size-fits-all rule could be applicable. It is the age of customization and individualization and same applies when it comes to setting annual goals and evaluations too. Thus, bid adieu to the one-size-fits-all managerial approach. Instead, manage people differently based on their individual goals, abilities, and strengths, while maintaining human resources parameters. Evaluate employees based on who they are, not based on the generation they belong to.
Variety and diversity are important elements in building a team as it brings in a wider range of both soft as well as technical skills on the plate. It is on you how you manage and bring all the flavours out in the right amount. And as it is said ‘Age is nothing but numbers’. It is you who decides how old or young you are. Be a great manager, a true leader and bring the youth and zeal out in every employee you work with.
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