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With baby boomers being present in the workplace, it means that your workforce is comprised of four generations – baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z. These generations have divergent expectations and drives, so they often clash, which complicates your efforts to lead them. Baby boomers work to live and acquire, Gen Xers seek independence, and Millennials and Gen Zers want to blend work and leisure.

HR professionals are facing a generational time bomb due to the myriad of diverse individuals and characteristics which create a management issue regarding the management of human experiences in the office.

Generational Gaps

Technically speaking, a new generation occurs every two decades, and each one of them is defined by age, location, birth years, and major life events at critical stages of development. Major movements and events shape the psyche of younger people. For example, baby boomers experienced the Vietnam war and the sexual revolution in their formative years, and they value hard work and chase the American dream. Gen Zers (born after 1997) are very tech-smart, but quite cautious and anxious due to their exposure to uncertainty and recession.

For HR, the most important work is in learning what motivates and engages each individual and then using it to maximize their performance. Leaders and managers need to embrace and emphasize inclusion and diversity, so everyone feels respected.

Listen and Encourage Feedback

Leaders need to listen to their staff in order to leverage the value of such a diverse workforce. Building a corporate culture that prizes diversity will reward everyone who practices those values. Idea sharing and openness should be encouraged, and risk-taking should be rewarded. It will lead to improved decision-making, more innovation, better customer relations, and higher employee retention. Encouraging such behavior will help you build an open-feedback culture, making coaching and feedback a two-way street. Regardless of their years, every employee wants recognition and appreciation. Offer everyone a competitive and fair base pay rate, avoid creating an atmosphere of insecurity, show caring and empathy, and give challenging and interesting assignments.

Communicate the Right Way

Different generations communicate differently. For example, older workers may prefer email or telephone, while younger ones may respond more to text messages and blogs. Tailor your communications, utilize the medium and frequency of messaging your employees prefer, and foster an environment of mutual respect.

Promote Learning

You should always look to hire people who love learning, but learning does take many forms. Millennials may embrace learning on their smartphones, while boomers might prefer a more hands-on experience. Your best bet is using a range of methods, media, and technology.

Millennials won’t just do the task without knowing why they should do it. To let them know why, you should express your expectations and promote values like trust, respect, honesty, determination, dedication, and integrity. Infuse their work with purpose and meaning. Talk to each employee about his or her preferences to help them strike the right balance.

Whatever their age may be, the foundations of multigenerational leadership includes:

  • Giving clear and complete knowledge of their work purpose and benchmarks of good performance;
  • Providing regular coaching and feedback, and;
  • Showing appreciation and recognition.

With baby boomers, avoid the appearance of micromanaging and tread carefully in providing feedback. With Gen Xers, give them autonomy mixed with frequent coaching. Millennials want lots of feedback daily but don’t want the hands-off style of managing. As for Gen Zers, the early indicators suggest that you should treat them like Millennials.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734