Managing Across Generations

As your business continues to grow and diversify it is inevitable that your new hires will span across a variety of generations. Not only does every generation have its own ‘personality,’ but consistently it seems that older generations see the next as lazy and unruly. There is a light at the end of the tunnel; we can find a common ground. What’s more, employee generational diversity will help drive success at your business through the creation of unique ideas and effective motivation.

How though, do we as business owners overcome the differences, and manage our team to be an effective and productive source of growth and development? BusinessWeek recently addressed this issue, and specifically focused on Generation Y. The article featured an interview with Jay Anderson, CEO of, a very hip news gathering website. Jay himself is young, but his employees span across generations.

His advice was to treat your Generation Y employees as follows:

· Empower them!

o Gen Y’s seemed to have back-lashed against the ‘get rich quick’ folks of the 90’s; their primary interest is to contribute to the business or organization.

o At the WPO, we ask our employees (who are almost all Gen Y) to create a list of personal goals for the next year that relate to their role at the organization. We then have an annual meeting to gauge their progress.

· Be a mentor.

o Gen Y’s are typed as being unhappy with a regular paycheck and demand more from their employers. Jay suggests that a good, mentor relationship will keep them happier longer. Gen Y’s are aware of their status as young but want to be able to contribute, so they are yearning to learn as quickly as possible. I

· Help them reach their goals

o This step is a mix of ‘empowering’ and ‘mentoring.’ The important strategy is to show an interest in their goals, as well as encourage their development.

While these ideas may seem a little overly sensitive, it may also keep your Gen Y’s happy and contributing longer. The more invested you inspire them to be with each other and the company, the more effort they’ll put into its development. And, if you can link the company’s growth to their own personal development, then they’ll contribute that much more.


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