How many different generations are represented in your workplace? Depending on size and industry, it is possible for some companies to employ personnel from up to five different generations! Growing up with vastly different value systems and qualities of life, employees from each generation have distinct strengths and challenges, so how do you leverage the skill sets of your team to be as productive as it can be?
Identifying and understanding the profiles of the generations in your workplace is a good place to start:
The Traditionals (born 1933-1945): Employees in this generation were raised in the aftermath of the Great Depression, where they understood how hard work led to increased financial stability and survival. Traditionals embody discipline, self-sacrifice, loyalty and are respectful of authority.
The Baby-Boomers (born 1946-1964): Baby-Boomers were born into a culture of prosperity and affluence after World War II, valuing achievement and embracing an “anything is possible” attitude. Baby-Boomer employees in the workplace are perceived as hardworking and productive and value strong nuclear family life. Perhaps because of their more rigid upbringing, both Traditionals and Baby-Boomers are often rated low in adaptability to change and are highly motivated by health and retirement benefits.
Generation X (born 1965-1979): The first generation where more children grew up with single parents or blended families, Gen-X’ers are known for their independence, resilience and adaptability and are excellent problem-solvers. Because of their independent nature, Gen-X’ers are less likely to be regarded by their peers as team players. This generation also values work flexibility, especially with regards to family and vacation time.
Generation Y/Millennials (born 1980-1995): Highly socialized, technologically savvy and always multi-tasking, Millennials are entering the workplace in droves. This generation often prefers the group setting to individual work, and is most enthusiastic about being promoted and moving up in the ranks. This group is sometimes criticized for being entitled, especially as the world becomes more and more reliant upon technology that Millennials grew up with.
Linksters (born 1995-present): You are less likely to see this generation in your workplace just yet, as they are entering young-adulthood, post-secondary education or the workforce. Even more so than Millennials, Linksters were born into a world where technology was entrenched in their education and where they have known what a smartphone was since they were old enough to walk.
Now that you have a better sense of some of the strengths and challenges of the different generations in your office, how do you manage your team so that your business is the most productive it can be?
Invest in Training: In order to help your employees understand where they fit within your organization and with each other, Personality Assessment Training and Team-Building Training can provide a great outlet for communication and promoting self-awareness. Personality assessment encourages your employees to be aware of their own strengths and challenges and fosters an environment where emotional intelligence is as highly valued as intellectual intelligence. In combination with team training, your employees understand how they can leverage their strengths and weaknesses with those of their peers.
Forge connections: As you can see from the profiles above, some of the traits specific to one group can be highly complementary to another’s, such as the Baby-Boomers’ productivity and the Millennials’ technological knowledge. Try creating an environment for strategic mentorship, matching personalities that you believe would learn well from each other, where both employees feel like their skills are respected.
Assign tasks strategically: Passionate employees are productive employees. When it’s possible, assign tasks that tap into what they love doing and what they are good at. Communicate openly about why you chose them for a specific task so that they are consistently made aware of their value in your eyes.
Find the appropriate motivation: If Baby-Boomers and Gen-X’ers, for example, value work-flexibility, family life and benefits, these are tools you can use to motivate their performance and achievements. For Millennials, make sure you communicate what they can do to improve in their role and how they can earn that promotion they are looking for. Try adjusting your style to tap into the distinct motivations of each group.
The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, so no matter how much changes across the decades, collaboration will never be outdated. Invest in your employees and promote an environment of mutual appreciation for what each individual brings to the organization. Do you know of any other ways you can support your employees with regards to generational differences? I look forward to your thoughts below!