A few decades ago, the workplace consisted of two groups of people: the old timers and the young hotshots. However, the workforce mix is a lot more complicated today running across multiple generations, who by and large have almost nothing in common, imperative of which is “how things should be done”. For the first time in history, there are five generations working side by side: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials) and Generation Z. This rapid and unprecedented demographic shift has many business leaders wondering how organisations will adapt to the “5G” workplace. The fact is that each generation has a different set of skills and psychological presence in an organisation. They have their way of approaching and completing a task, providing organisations with ample opportunities to achieve their goals and objective. Despite all these, the generation gap is bound to create some challenging situations. It is for this reason we have provided this guide on how you can effectively manage your multigenerational workforce, and by effectively, we do mean progressive baby steps.
There are currently five generations in the world today:
· Post War/Silent Generation/Traditionalists: Born approximately between 1928 and 1945;
·Baby Boomers: Born approximately between 1946 and 1964;
·Generation X: Born approximately between 1965 and 1979;
·Generation Y (Millennials): Born approximately between 1980 and 1995, and;
·Generation Z: Born approximately starting in 1996 (The HR Specialist, 2014).
Managing a Multigenerational Workforce: What You Can Do
1. Ignore Stereotypes:
There will be different skills due to the generational gap, but that should not lead to stereotyping all employees. As a leader, you must try to encourage the uniqueness and maintain the balance between your employees. Stress on the importance that they need to know each other and promote understanding between them. When they establish a positive connection among themselves, it will help them bridge the gap.
2. Encourage Collaboration:
The generational gap should not mean that they cannot work with each other. As a leader, you can increase cohesion between them by encouraging collaboration across the age divide. Coming from different generations means an ample number of opportunities for them to learn something new from each other so as frequently as possible, facilitate sessions where they can pitch their ideologies and thoughts to encourage appreciation of diversity. This will help each generation to see and appreciated the differences in the way they work, helping every one of them to gain new knowledge coupled with experience. This is the most effective way to foster collaboration in the multigenerational workforce.
3. Equal feedback:
There is an assumption that only the millennials or Gen Z thrive for feedback, but that is untrue. Be specific and regularly provide constructive feedback aiming solely on the improvement of every employee and not to emphasize comparison and preference for one generation over another, they each bring to the table an ingredient of value. This will significantly increase engagement levels and improve their overall performance.
4. Diversify Communication Strategies:
Older employees may be fine with verbal communication, younger generations may not get the message unless it is in an email, in video or some other graphical format. Thus, using multiple communication modes ensures all generations get the information as intended.
Everyone talks about how we need teams to be diverse, but we hardly ever imagine the diversity within the same age and experience range. Each generation has a different set of skills and psychological presence in an organisation that could prove invaluable if harnessed sensitively. They have their way of approaching and completing a task that facilitates operational synergy if observed and properly directed. The generation gap only becomes truly treacherous where the effectiveness of your organisation’s management is lacking.
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