Due to older generations working beyond retirement age and with Gen Z entering the workplace there are now 5 generations in the workplace.
People like to be understood, valued, and included, it is when we give our best, or when stepping outside our comfort zone that is not something we shy away from. But how do we achieve this in such diverse environments we live and work in today?
This journey starts with identifying different generations at work. Historical events that shaped each generation’s professional and private lives, as well as our mindsets, our different needs in different stages of our life and our motivators, are all important segments to learn to identify, understand and take into consideration in every interaction and collaboration and when learning about different expectations.
Focusing on differences between generations as well as being prepared to recognise potential areas of conflict due to different mindsets and finding the way to leverage our differences at work is the key to successful collaborative teams.
The tricky part is to learn to recognise our own biases and the fact that we tend to generalize a lot. In most instances, generalizations are useful as a frame of reference but we must be made aware that they do not apply to everyone. When talking about different characteristics for each generation, they should only serve as a reference and we should never assume every single person belonging to that generation will have those characteristics, this especially is the case with people born close to the end of one and start of another generation.
In our training programme, we use general categorisation as a tool and a frame of reference to help us understand the differences between the generations and to help us with creating action plans to leverage these differences for achieving the best collaborative and inclusive working environments.
Every individual is different from one another, regardless of if they are a similar age, so we as managers and leaders need to get curious, we must be committed to getting to know and understand our peers and colleagues well. We must acknowledge our differences and see them as great opportunities rather than being negative about them.
Job loyalty, work-life balance, motivation, communication style and preference, feedback, working hours, and decision making are just some of the important factors we need to learn to understand and adjust ourselves accordingly if we want people to feel valued, included, understood and safe at work.
Over the years we created lots of labels for different generations, so some generations are labelled lazy, but we all know productivity has nothing to do with age. Some are labelled to have bad attitudes, and again, we all know attitudes have nothing to do with age. We have also stereotyped generations such as Gen Z to have short attention spans, lazy, and with no loyalty but with high expectations, and Gen X for example as selfish, negative and with lack of focus.
It is our job to find out what motivates individuals, what are their needs and get to know them better and acknowledge good work instead of always communicating their failures to them. When you learn to treat individuals like that, people will be committed to their role and to their performance.
Different people, different generations, all have different strengths and it is our job as managers and leaders to learn to build on them. The only difference we can have at work (and in life) is in the way we approach someone, deciding what communication style will bring the best results.
Instead of concentrating on stereotypes we created for different generations, we must focus on their strengths and use them in such a way for people to learn from one another, for people to start getting curious asking questions and learning more about each other instead of simply thinking of their age and differences.
The bottom line is everyone, regardless of their age and which generation they belong to, everyone wants to feel valued, have opportunities to grow, know their purpose and find meaning in their work. Everyone wants to be treated and spoken to with respect.
Each generation will have different expectations from their managers and leaders, but some things remain the same for all such as managers and leaders being accessible to them at all times, who are good coaches and good mentors, manager or a leader who is trustworthy and who helps them see their importance of their role within the team clearly, manager or a leader who is and holds others accountable, who will challenge them and who leads by example.
To best leverage generational diversity at work, we must accept our differences, share a common purpose, stop stereotyping people, communicate expectations, create cross-generational teams, recognise, and celebrate people timely and appropriately, allow for different perspectives, create a coaching culture, where you coach your team, but people in your team will coach each other.
Always bear in mind people’s communication preferences and their motivators.
Start assessing your team’s and organisation’s approach to dealing with different generations at work and identify if any areas need improving. Create an action plan and communicate this clearly with your team.
How much do you know about people inside your team and organisation? Do you know what kind of communication will bring you the best results from different people? How about loyalty? Do you know what motivates and what are the expectations for different generations and how to ensure to keep them from leaving?
When was the last time you sat and evaluated your recruitment and retention processes? Do you know what makes your business attractive to different generations? Do you cater more benefits for one generation but very few for others? Where should your focus be at to attract and retain top talent from different generations?
Challenge your own way you leverage different generations within your teams and within your organisation by joining our Managing Different Generations Within Your Teams and Organisation Programme. Get in touch for a no-obligation conversation by booking a free call here: https://calendly.com/iva-vertexhumancapital/30min