How to Manage Multi-Generation Employees

How To Manage Multi-Generation Employees - People Development Network, Patricia Haywood, Managing People
Patricia Haddock
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Patricia Haddock

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Patricia Haddock
Patricia Haddock

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Managing Multi-Generation Employees is complex

The generation gap today is the greatest, most complex and most challenging it has ever been for managers. Understanding a bit more about each generation can help you better communicate with and manage your team and help them work more effectively with each other.

Right now, businesses are juggling at least three–and sometimes four!–generations of employees with conflicting expectations and preferences. Never before has it been so important to know how to manage and motivate multi-generation employees.

Baby Boomers find Gen X to be impatient and unwilling to put in the extra effort. Traditionals, the oldest group, hate change and resist technology. Gen Ys–the Millennials–find everyone and everything moving too slowly and taking too long. Younger generations want to do everything using technology; Boomers prefer to meet in person; Traditionals think it’s all balderdash and nonsense!

Traditionals (1922-1943/46) Are Loyal and True

While some companies still have a smattering of Traditional employees, most are retired or retiring soon.

The Great Depression and World War II shaped Traditional employees. They are dedicated, loyal employees who view work as an honor and a privilege and who often work for the same company for their entire careers. Traditional employees tend to see things as either black or white, resist change, and believe that rules and regulations should be followed without question.

It is important for managers to recognize the contributions of Traditional employees and give them an opportunity to share their knowledge and lifetime of experience.

Baby Boomers (1943/46-1964) Are Workaholics and Networkers

While many Boomers are moving into retirement many are continuing to work.

The Baby Boomer generation was the largest generation in history, eclipsed only by the Millennials. Boomers are all about change—the Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Sexual Revolution, demonstrations. As a group, Boomers have made huge changes on how business works.

Baby Boomers live to work and will spend long hours both on and off the job in order to succeed and get ahead. They often expect everyone to do the same. If you finish work early, you either need more work or need to help someone else, not go home for the day!

Networking with and forming a personal relationship with your Boomer employees are important since Boomers generally prefer inclusive managers. Reward them with public recognition for a job well done, promotions, and money.

Generation X (1964-1980)

Gen X has the smaller population; many Boomer women did not have children. Gen X and Boomers probably make up the largest employee population.

An impatient generation that focuses on results, describe your expectations and deadlines, and then turn them lose to deliver! Processes tend to get in their way, and they are not above circumventing them. These employees prefer communicating by email or text rather than meet in person.

Loyalty is not on the table. Gen X will jump ship if they don’t like something and can’t change it. The especially dislike being monitored or micromanaged. These employees introduced flexible benefits to the workplace and value work/life integration, so reward them with technology tools and time off.

Millennials/Generation Y (1980-2000)

This is another large.

Millennials have been called “Generation Why Not?” They question everything, are not impressed by rank or title, and believe that everyone should be treated equally. Growing up on teams, they like working with others.

This generation doesn’t understand workplace politics and tends toward making faux pas. They appreciate being mentored by someone who is patient and willing to teach them the ropes but avoid patronizing them.

Millennials are the most technology-savvy generation, and they love high-tech solutions. Give them clear expectations, provide high-tech tools, and be willing to nurture them. Reward them with meaningful assignments and high-tech tools.

The Keys to Managing Multi-Generation Employees

As you can see, each generation requires a different approach and motivation. Despite their differences, every generation wants to be respected and valued for what they bring to the workplace. Help your multi-generation employees to appreciate each other and understand that their differences can strengthen the team.

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