Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z and Millennials – they all may be very different generations and they are creating workforces that encompass all of these range of ages. Working today often means joining a team with a variety of ages. A millennial may manage you, and you may still work with Generation Xers and baby boomers.
As more and more baby boomers work past their retirement age and tech-savvy Generation Z graduate from university to enter the workforce, the stark differences in the values, communication styles and work habits of each generation are becoming increasingly pronounced, and every person that enters the workplace brings with them different life experiences, perspectives and views, which are essential to every business.
In order to be able to create an efficient and inclusive workplace, managers need to be aware of the three main challenges for these modern mixed generation workforces, and how they can effectively deal with them…
Challenge One – Age
When creating high-performing teams which span the generations; being ever mindful of the older generations of employees with their extensive experience, also the younger generations with newer skill sets and techniques. The emphasis needs to be on improving communication between the diverse generations, enhancing understanding of each other’s preferences, strengths and weaknesses. Managers who build on the strengths of each generation and address any arising problems will, without a doubt, be the most successful in the future. Also, managers must create a workplace environment that is flexible enough to suit the different work styles and attitudes across age groups. For older generations, this could mean focusing on opportunities to share ideas, best practice and their considerable career experience, whereas for younger generations it might mean a more flexible work environment with a chance to focus on creativity, innovation and change.
Challenge Two – Values
Each of the generations brings their own values to the workplace, and in turn they each have varying expectations and values that are reflected in how they prefer to be acknowledged for their efforts. Understanding the differences in these values is vital to managers in retaining active employee engagement; While Baby Boomers value individuality and place importance on material success, Generation X are more focused on flexible work arrangements, family time and faster promotional opportunities. And Millennials value social activities, personal freedom and workplace connections.
Challenge Three – Communication
The difference between older and younger generations in preferred communication styles may seem quite obvious! Yet how many managers choose a one-style-fits-all approach when communicating across a diverse team? Employees of all ages are motivated differently, with different preferences and strengths. Mix in the younger workers love of abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms, and you’ve got a potential recipe for serious communication breakdowns! Conflict can be the result of a poorly considered, poorly delivered managerial or peer-to-peer communication. Managers can ease this situation by factoring in face to face team meetings and creating space within the workplace where colleagues can sit together and discuss their mutual projects or take time out to air each other’s point of view. Technology can support this with virtual teams using video conferencing software to facilitate such meetings.
As a manager, or business leader you will find your own way of dealing with these challenges. And whatever style you choose, you must keep in mind the following… Always respect your team, no matter their age. Speak to them, listen to them. Ensure they’re collaborating, learning from each other, sharing ideas, actively engaged and individually valued in their work environment.
Here at Corporate Drama we can help you by using our interactive, dynamic learning experiences with business role-play actors and your specific workplace challenges. We make training memorable, transferable and measurable. They say that ‘practice makes perfect.’ And theory in a classroom is not practice… actually doing something different is. So, the best way to improve your staff’s management, leadership, influencing, customer service or selling skills is to create as close to a real-life environment as possible. Our Corporate Drama team of facilitators, coaches and business actors bring something very different to each client project. All of our team have ‘walked the walk’ working in the real world of business, with all of its politics, pressures and relationship challenges. This means your people have a very different training experience, one that is as close to real-life as possible. This gives them the confidence to put the ‘practice into action’ back in their ever-challenging working environments.
Here at Corporate Drama we develop authentic leaders, managers and teams. Our programmes re-energise, re-focus and re-engage your people. We dramatically transform workplace training leaving a measurable, visible impact throughout your entire organisation.
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