How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

Did you know that in today’s workforce, you could be managing employees from up to five different generations? The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z are all part of today’s employee pool, and your teams are likely to require members of at least two or three generations to collaborate. This can be tough, as every generation views work differently, but it also provides the opportunity to bring out the very best ideas and processes. Here are some tips for managing a multi-generational workforce.

Drop the Assumptions

People are just people, regardless of generation. Some general rules of thumb tend to apply to different generations, but never stereotype your employees. Instead, talk to each person individually to learn how you can best help them succeed.

Get Involved

No matter when they were born, team members tend to respond best to a leader who takes the time to engage and bond with them. Overall, members of Gen X and above tend to prefer autonomy, while Millennials and Gen Z enjoy a more collaborative spirit, but this isn’t necessarily true for all members of a particular generation. Check in regularly, challenge your younger team members, give them the tools they need, and then trust them to perform, regardless of generation.

Watch Your Wording

You might genuinely want to know why a particular team member dislikes phone calls or goes for a run at lunchtime, but it matters how you ask. “How come you’re never here for lunch?” sounds confrontational and critical. “Does getting some exercise during your break help you focus?” is much more inquisitive and can set the stage for an open dialogue about how that particular employee works best. Always remember that the goal is to learn more about how you can support your team members and encourage them to perform their best.

It’s not easy to manage millennials and a multi-generational workforce, but the benefits can be stunning. Strive for openness, understanding, and engagement. You will go a long way towards creating a collaborative workgroup across the generational divides.

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