Blending a multi-generational team is becoming more and more important, as more millennials enter the workforce and an increased number of baby-boomers are working longer. Age plays a major role in identifying employee’s work ethic, strengths, ambitions and motivations. It’s up to the manager to face these challenges head-on. Instead of allowing their differences to create a generational gap, it’s important to identify their differences, recognize this natural division and embrace their strengths and approach to work. It’s important for managers to understand who they’re managing – and tailor their managing styles accordingly. According to various studies, millennials are able to adapt more easily and think more quickly on their feet. While their baby-boomer counterparts have more general knowledge, wisdom and experience. By taking advantage of these differences, effective managers will be able to build a stronger team. Here are several tips on how to harness these differences in order to effectively bridge the gap between generations:
Create a Dynamic Environment– Older workers grew up in a more hierarchical society, while younger workers are more accustomed to open communication, especially in the midst of the social media age. By encouraging round table meetings where everyone has the opportunity to offer their opinion without jeopardy and the fear of judgement, managers will more likely see a stronger team that is more willing to collaborate and communicate with one another, despite their seniority level or age. Managers who embrace non-traditional approaches to problem solving will reap the benefits that different generations bring to the table.
Encourage Communication– It goes without saying, today’s millennials are incredibly tech-savvy and rely heavily on it to communicate but technology can sometimes hinder our ability to effectively communicate and collaborate. It can create disparities and gaps among team members which can lead to missed opportunities, confusion and miscommunication. It’s important for managers to foster an environment that encourages face time. Encourage your team to ask questions and create an environment where younger employees are comfortable stopping by a co-worker’s or supervisor’s office in person and build stronger relationships.
Foster Innovative Thinking – Today’s workforce is motivated by different goals than it was a decade or two ago. Companies need to learn to adapt to the changing workforce. Although, the assumption has been that millennials lack the work ethic that comes naturally to baby boomers – recent studies show that this is not the case. Millennials don’t lack work ethic, but they are less likely to work in a job that they view as unfulfilling and they are not afraid to communicate their dissatisfaction. Millennials are motivated by meaningful work and achieving a sense of accomplishment. Loving what you do and believing that you are making a difference doesn’t just apply to millennials. It’s a basic human desire, it applies to older generations as well. Baby boomers grew up with the norm that work was a means to an end – that earning a paycheck was top priority. Managers who create environments that listen to their employees and work with them to create interesting and engaging projects will end up with a team that is motivated to share ideas and work harder.
Today, the most effective managers are aware of the similarities and differences between generations and how these employees prefer to be engaged and motivated. Finding the right balance between adapting to the younger workforce and taking advantage of the experience and knowledge of older generations is key.