The workplace is becoming multigenerational. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials are working alongside each other as employee longevity is increasing with decreasing birth rates, longer life expectancy and better working conditions.
Each generation has their backgrounds, principals, cultures, expectations and work styles which presents a challenge to the modern-day leader.
How can the modern-day leader expect different generations to work in tandem alongside each other?
Now and in the future, different generations with different backgrounds, cultures, expectations and work styles will be expected to work alongside each other efficiently.
Leading across generations is not an easy task. A modern-day leader needs to understand multigenerational tendencies to be able to create a productive and inclusive workplace.
Below we’ve highlighted 3 barriers of leading your multigenerational team to help you effectively lead your group, build on the strengths of each generation and address the arising problems.
The communication style of the younger generations tends to be more informal and includes lots of abbreviations, compared to older generations of employees. If not addressed correctly, these communicational differences can lead to serious miscommunication issues whether it be misunderstanding of a particular task or creating conflict in the team.
Numerous studies have shown that while Baby Boomers and older Generation X’s prefer in person, email and phones calls – millennials prefer digital communication, and many even have phone-call phobia and altogether avoid speaking on the phone.
Leaders must emphasise improving communication between the generations to enhance the cross-generational understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding the differences in principals will help you manage what’s drive your team forward. Modern-day leaders must acknowledge the efforts of each team member, regardless of the generational work style.
For example, Baby Boomers tend to value individuality and place importance on material success, while younger generations are more focused on flexible work arrangements, family time and faster promotional opportunities.
However, these principals can cause problems when transmitted to the workplace. Baby Boomers tend to expect younger generations of employees commit to long work hours and respect authority figures as that’s how they were brought up. Generation X and Millennials, on the other hand, tend to enjoy flexible work hours and prefer less supervision which sets a stage for a conflicting atmosphere at work.
The modern-day workplace requires managers to educate themselves and address the needs of all ages within their team.
Modern leaders must create a working environment that is flexible enough to suit the different work styles and attitudes across age groups while addressing the fact that most employees will prefer to work with people of a similar age.
Leaders should learn the intentions and specific traits of all ages and find a way to integrate them into cohesive teams.
Your working environment could utilise older employees to apply their extensive experience while using young generations to provide newer skillsets and techniques. For older generations, you could focus more work-life balance, whereas it for more youthful generations might expect a flexible work environment with a chance to work from whenever, wherever.
Breaking the multigenerational barriers
You will find your way of dealing with the challenges above to be successful now and into the future. However, the key is to always respect your team, no matter their generation.
Regularly speaking and listening to your team is an age-old leadership quality that applies to all generations. In addition, the following strategies should be considered to break the generational barriers in the workplace:
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