Diversity of all kinds, whether generational, racial or in other forms, is a very good thing to have in your workplace. The greater the variety of people, experiences and viewpoints you bring to the table, the more likely new ideas and innovation are going to occur. But it’s no secret also that different generations can find themselves at odds in the workplace, from the older Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement to the young Millennials who have drastically different ideas of what work should be like. This guide will go into how to best manage generational diversity in the workplace.
Create And Encourage Mentorships
Mentorships are helpful to employees and managers of all skill levels, and with a multigenerational workforce, the opportunity to create such mentorships is readily available to you. Implementing mentorship programs, including ones that go both ways (for example, younger employees might teach older employees how to best utilize technology while older employees might share their wider breadth of experience with younger employees), is a great way to get generations working together and learning from each other, and is an effective method to managing today’s multigenerational workforce.
Assign Different Generations To The Same Team
This can cause tension, of course, but worse is when you keep employees of different generations segregated into different teams. Then tribalism sets in, and often productivity takes a slump and animosity can develop when different groups are doing things differently and expect different standards. Multigenerational teams, however, are exposed to each other and different ways of approaching problems and conducting business. When members of the different generations connect on a personal level at work, they will get to know each other individually and therefore not work off of stereotypes they might have of other generations.
Focus On Similarities
Different generations are going to have a lot of differences, but this isn’t something you should focus on. Instead, focus on the similar goals of everyone in your office or on your team. It’s always in your company’s best interest to instill a sense of camaraderie in your employees – you’re all in this together and want to take pride in your work. Every one of your employees, whether they express it often or not, want to feel like they are part of the team, that their opinions are valued and that their work matters. Recognizing this is going to please everyone, regardless of generation.
Work Out The Differences
People from different generations often have deep divides, and as the leader of a multigenerational group of people, you’re responsible for helping your employees work out their differences. Work-related stress issue keeps rising nowadays, and tempers can flare hot when a single employee or group of employees feels another employee or group of employees isn’t doing things right or pulling their own weight. If it gets to the point where you have two employees who are constantly clashing and disrupting the office, you need to pull them aside and have a meeting. Take into consideration everything you know about both of those employees, listen to their complaints and concerns and work out a solution.
Focus On Fit
An employee being the right fit for a role is perhaps even more important in a multigenerational and diverse workplace. For example, a Baby Boomer might be a better fit for a traditional-minded management position while a Millennial might be better in a position that requires more flexibility and creativity. Be careful not to discriminate, however – there are plenty of Baby Boomers who are better suited for a flexible and creative role and plenty of Millennials who are skilled managers. Focusing on fit and putting employees where they are best suited is going to make your company more productive and the different generations work better together.
Get A Sense Of What Each Person Wants
Different generations generally have different wants and needs because they are at different stages in their lives. Baby Boomers tend to be set in their ways and looking forward to retirement, while Gen Xers might be more inclined to plug along and not make waves, while Millennials might really want to make a difference and be more vocal when it comes to having their ideas heard. Remember too that stereotypes are often not true and individual wants and needs are just as important as what each generational demographic in your office might want as a whole. Make sure all company managers take special notice of how each employee prefers to learn, receive feedback and communicate.
Compromise is the key to making sure all the generations represented at your company get along. Compromises force everyone to give up something in order to get something else, and it’s an important concept for everyone to get used to, whether they’re the boss or the mail clerk. This ensures that one person or group of people does not lord it over everyone else, resulting in disgruntled employees who feel their voices are never heard when it comes to important issues, business decisions or policy changes. Compromise also forces each generation out of their comfort zone into trying things that the other generations are inclined to do, broadly speaking.
Leading different generations in the workplace has its own challenges, but they can be overcome by committed, understanding and skilled managers. Take everyone’s needs and wants into consideration, put employees where they are best suited, create multigenerational teams and continue to instill a sense of camaraderie among your employees to counter the cultural divides between the generations and harness them into a diverse workforce that can innovate and come up with different solutions to problems.