Managing Generational Differences In The Workplace

Managing generational differences in the workplace

With it becoming commonplace for businesses to have multigenerational employees, knowing how to manage their differences couldn’t be more important. While it’s easy to become overwhelmed with what may seem like a lot of generational differences, it’s actually easier than you’d imagine to manage effectively and promote great cohesion among your employees.

The key to getting a grip to age diversity in the workplace is to adopt a single, inclusive style of leadership. Start focusing on managing your employees fairly and being a leader for all while adjusting your style to accommodate the differences that are there.

To help you adopt a new and improved management style to combat generational differences in your workplace, we’ve set out 6 useful tips. If you’d like to read more on how to improve your leadership skillset, please visit our Leadership blog now.

Adapt the ways in which you communicate

An important part of dealing with generational differences in the workplace comes with effective communication. Knowing how to speak with older or younger employees is an excellent way to build an inclusive workplace.

When dealing with older members of the workforce (baby boomers) you may find that they’re more reserved and less upfront about their opinions. More often than not, a traditional and more authoritative style of management will work well with baby boomers.

On the other hand, younger employees (millennials) are more likely to prefer a collaborative style of management where you’ll work together to deal with issues. Think about adopting a similar style of management that a coach might have with a sports team.

Helping employees embrace change

Whether it be political, emotional, financial or anything else, change is something that a lot of people have problems dealing with. Unsurprisingly, this is the same in the workplace and some employees will need a little more time or coaching in order to adapt.

According to research from Robert Half, millennials are far more likely to view change as an opportunity that should be made the most of. This is in contrast to baby boomers simply being accustomed to changes in the workplace. However, accustomed doesn’t mean inspired and additional support should be given to baby boomers to try and get them wholeheartedly on board with what’s going on.

Optimising for learning and training

A lot can be said as to why people learn differently to others, but the divide between generations can be disruptive to the workplace. Robert Half’s research also found baby boomers and gen x (the generation following the baby boomers) learn best via “traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools”. In contrast, millennials prefer a “collaborative, technology-centric” approach to learning.

So, what does this mean for management? Well, cohesion between both groups needs to be established to avoid disruption in the learning process. Develop new communication methods that appeal to the millennial side of your workforce and make sure to adapt if older employees need help too.

Create diverse project teams

Millennials and baby boomers will both have different ways of tackling project management and problem solving. Thankfully, mixing up teams for projects presents an easy way to iron out generational differences in the workplace. This can help bolster your leadership skills and allows employees to really learn something from having age diversity in the workforce. Ideally, the goal is to create a safe environment where both sides of the generational spectrum can learn from one another.

Give more responsibility to younger members of your workforce

While having project teams with diverse age groups can aid in creating cohesion among your employees, you need to recognise that the younger generation is the inevitable future. Therefore, it’s essential that you give your younger employees a chance to shine.

Encouraging your younger employees to lead projects is an effective way to introduce different methods and thought processes into the status quo. This is especially useful in building respect between different age groups in your workforce and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Base your leadership style around flexibility

The final piece in the puzzle revolves around management style. It’s fair to say that there isn’t a single management style that can deal with age diversity in the workplace. While the broader strokes of management will deal with all the points mentioned here, the finer detail lies in your ability to understand each of your employees as individuals. Despite their age, work to understand your employees and what drives their ambitions. It’s not something that happens overnight but it should be a focus point you’re aiming to get a firm understanding of as soon as possible.

For more leadership and management inspired reading material, please visit our Leadership blog or alternatively, see how Saxons can modernise your IT systems by heading to the IT Solutions page.