Building an organization as a conscious leader requires more than implementing strategies to grow the business's profit and scale over time. One of the more intentional steps a leader takes involves effective people management.
To successfully manage the people in a business, you must first understand the generations that play primary roles in the organization. These generations have lived through different experiences, some of which are significant shifts that shape how they typically think, communicate, and approach situations. So, productive people management of such diverse groups is impossible without understanding each generation individually.
Right now, there are five generations in the workspace. However, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that the Gen Zs population in the US civilian workforce will go up to 49.6%, and the millennials will rise from 80.9% to 81% by 2030. As a result, this article focuses on managing Gen Z and millennials as they're the rising population in the workforce.
As we mentioned earlier, diversity should be expected across generations due to the different trends, technological advancements, and historical moments they have each lived through. According to PurdueGlobal, the five generations in the workspace are Traditionalists (2%), Baby Boomers (25%), Generation X (33%), millennials (35%), and Generation Z (5%). I've detailed the characteristics of these different generations in the workforce and the affecting factors here to provide general insight into each one.
Born between 1925-1945, traditionalists are loyal, hardworking people who value:
This makes them most likely to retain one position throughout their career. Key events that shaped them include The Great Depression, World War II, and the introduction of radios and movies.
Baby boomers are people born between 1946-1964. The Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, and the Watergate Scandal shaped these individuals. Like traditionalists, they value loyalty but are not as picky with communication preferences. Their other values include:
Those born between 1965-1980 experienced the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the emergence of the internet. The internet presence of Gen X in their youth makes them more tech-savvy than previous generations. They are also known as individuals who:
Also known as Generation Y, millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. Shaped by historical events like 9/11 and the accessibility of the internet to the public, millennials are open-minded and socially aware. Their familiarity with the internet makes their primary communication preference digital communication. They also:
Those born between 1997-2012 are the youngest members of the workforce. They are deeply influenced by technological advancements, which have given rise to new trends and job opportunities. Technology is intuitive to this generation, and their exposure to overflowing information and diverse cultures makes them:
A lot of information, misinformation and opinions are circulating about millennials' behavior in the workspace. While some are backed by evidence, others are based on speculations or misunderstandings of people who have worked with or encountered millennials in the workspace. Let’s examine five of the most common ones to determine whether they are myths or reality.
You can see how widely misunderstood millennials are from these myth bursts. On the surface, they seem shallow and unprofessional. However, to effectively manage millennials you must look past the speculations into what truly guides and informs their workplace choices.
Find their strengths and motivations and maximize them.
To effectively manage millennials in your organization incorporate some or all of these strategies into your management playbook:
It’s important to familiarize yourself with how to manage Generation Z, as they are the latest addition to the professional world. So, what are Gen Z's key traits and expectations in the workspace?
Like millennials, Gen Z is largely misunderstood and perceived as work-shy. However, understanding their motivations and the events that shaped them provides a good starting point for creating strategies that meet their workplace needs.
Management strategies you can implement for Gen Z employees include:
Communication barriers are a real problem while managing various generations in your workplace. This might be because some generations are more acquainted with other forms of communication than those used today. Whatever the case, your role at this point is to find solutions to help bridge this barrier. Some steps you can take to bridge the communication gap are:
Are you leading a multi-generational team and know their strengths and motivation but are still determining what strategies to implement to account for the needs of all the generations present? Here are four leadership strategies to implement in your multi-generational team.
Despite the different values and preferences of the generations in a workplace, setting up proper communication channels creates a medium for individuals to voice their challenges. As we know, understanding a problem is the first step in solving it.
You want to provide learning opportunities for every member of the team. This does not have to be the same across all generations. For example, you can offer older generations the opportunity to learn how to use software and technologies. In contrast, the younger generation learns mindfulness and how to be less digitally dependent.
A culture of respect, teamwork, and acceptance in your team can enable generations to collaborate despite their differences. While they might have contrasting values, their willingness, and ability to accept this culture will limit workplace conflict across generations.
Each generation has unique strengths that they bring to your team. With the help of your human resource team or agency, you can structure your team in a way that leverages the strengths of each generation while minimizing their weaknesses through teamwork.
The world has changed and will continue to do so. As a leader, you're responsible for facilitating these changes to benefit your business and the people who work in it. The challenges faced due to generational differences have come to light, and it is vital to establish a work culture in which no generation feels undervalued or disrespected.
Fostering a work culture that values generational diversity is a great way to maximize the talents that work for you. People from different age groups have different views, so your team can iterate ideas and bring problem-solving innovations to life. Moreover, such diversity allows a business to understand a customer base as diverse as its team.
Businesses that invest in creating an inclusive environment for their employees also experience higher talent retention. However, simply having your workplace culture plastered across your website, office space, or job board is insufficient to achieve such mindsets in your organization. You have to create and implement strategies and workplace policies that promote inclusivity and respect for all generations in your team. These would govern your hiring process and inform your choice when such policies are flouted.
Do successful multi-generational workplaces that foster inclusive and respectful workplaces exist? They certainly do. Here are some case studies to peruse.
Mah Sing Group, a Malaysia-based real estate development company, comprises four generations in their workforce, the dominant one being millennials (55%). Other generations in the company include Gen X (35%), Baby Boomers (5%), and Gen Z (5%). There is a lot to unpack for your team on how they bridged communication gaps across generations in their team.
Marriott International is an American multinational hospitality company that operates, franchises, and licenses lodging, with 120,000 employees as of 2021. Their story on how they thrive with a multi-generational team of Boomers to Gen Z is just the inspiration you might need.
Your organization is just a few strategies away from having better collaboration across generations. Just as Mah Sing and Marriott created a healthy workplace for their wide range of employees, you can too.
The ball is in your court!