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Published on October 18, 2022

How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)

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How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)

It’s no secret that the workforce is changing. And with that change comes new challenges and frustrations. However, with change, also comes new opportunities to learn, grow and innovate.

But, in many cases, it’s easier said than done especially when managing a multigenerational workforce.

After all, it’s not simply about adopting new forms of modern technology; it’s about understanding and accommodating your team’s different motivations, expectations, and working styles.

This article aims to give you the confidence you need to lead all ages on your team. Here are 11 tips to help you manage your multigenerational workforce

11 Tips for Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

Like any other management, you have to start with the basics. Often, these are things that are within your control and things that you can change within yourself.

1. Encourage an Open-Minded Attitude

One of the most important things you can do as a manager is to encourage an open-minded attitude in your team.

With so many different generations in the workplace, it’s vital that everyone feels they have a voice. Create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Here are three ideas to get you started:

  • Make it a point to solicit feedback from all team members, regardless of age
  • Have open hours where team members can drop by your office to chat and share ideas
  • Encourage an environment of healthy debate and respectful disagreement

Open-mindedness is key to managing a multigenerational workforce because it gives all of your employees the chance to fail forward. Someone will inevitably make a mistake, cause an offense, or speak from their implicit bias at some point.

It’s imperative to foster a culture of accountability so that everyone knows that these things are not tolerated. But, it’s just as important to encourage an environment where people feel comfortable making mistakes without fear of judgment or retribution.

2. Promote a Culture of Learning

Right now, there are four generations in the workforce and all of these generations have different expectations, working styles, and motivations.

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  1. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  2. Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980)
  3. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)
  4. Generation Zers (born after 1997)

For example, Generation X prefers to work in isolation, whereas millennials are more likely to seek collaboration.

When you place these two generations side-by-side, it’s easy to see how conflict can arise. However, if they both feel comfortable discussing their expectations and needs openly and honestly, they can find a middle ground that works for everyone.

Creating a Culture of Learning in Your Workplace

Think about it this way; if you can create an environment where everyone feels comfortable learning from each other, then conflict becomes an opportunity for growth and innovation, not a source of frustration.

Here are three ideas:

  • Hire a multigenerational team of experts to lead company-wide training sessions on emotional intelligence, unconscious bias, and cross-generational communication
  • Encourage mentorship by pairing up employees of different ages to learn from each other
  • Designate a specific day each week or month as a “learning day” where everyone is encouraged to read an article, listen to a podcast, or watch a TED talk that exposes them to new ideas and generational perspectives

3. Encourage Cross-Generational Collaboration

One of the best ways to foster a culture of learning is to encourage cross-generational collaboration.

In fact, studies have shown that multigenerational teams are more innovative because they’re able to draw on a broader range of experiences and perspectives. In short, they’re able to think outside the box. [1]

When you place people of different ages and stages in life side-by-side, they can share their unique perspectives and ideas and ultimately give your business a competitive edge. And isn’t that the main goal?

Diversity is key to innovation, so if you want your business to stay ahead of the curve, it’s imperative to provide your team with opportunities to collaborate across generations.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have various ages provide feedback on upcoming projects and give them the freedom to add their mark
  • Encourage employees of different ages to share their favorite tools and apps with the team
  • Appoint co-leaders of different ages to oversee company-wide initiatives

Cross-generational collaboration can be complex, but it’s worth the effort. By encouraging your team to share their unique perspectives, you’re opening the door to a world of possibilities and setting your business up for success.

4. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

There will always be differences between the generations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground and enjoy working together.

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Being in a room where people of different ages are all working together can be a lot of fun. And, as studies suggest, an enjoyable work environment is more productive.

So, how can you make sure your workplace is fun for everyone? Here are three ideas:

  • Plan company-wide social events that cater to different interests like having a board game night, a karaoke night, or a movie night
  • Organize intergenerational sports teams and have them compete against other businesses in your industry
  • Encourage employees to decorate their workspaces in a way that reflects their personality

Fun should be a top priority in any workplace. And it should be especially high on the list if you want to manage a multigenerational workforce.

Not only does it foster a positive and productive work environment, but it also helps everyone feel valued and appreciated. That’s something all ages can get behind.

5. Manage Expectations

When managing an intergenerational workplace, it’s essential to manage expectations. You won’t always see eye-to-eye with every employee, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s to be expected.

There will be generational clashes. The most important thing is to manage them in a way that doesn’t result in conflict. After all, the last thing you want is for your team to be divided or feel disrespected.

Here are a few tips to help you manage expectations:

  • Be flexible when it comes to accommodating different generational needs like allowing a millennial to work remotely for two days and letting a baby boomer work daily
  • When hiring, be clear about your expectations when it comes to multigenerational work environments
  • Touch back with your team regularly to ensure everyone is on the same page by having clear and easy-to-implement expectations

If you can manage expectations, you’ll be well on your way to managing a multigenerational workplace successfully. Just remember to keep the lines of communication open and be willing to accommodate different needs.

6. Evaluate Your Own Biases

When it comes to managing a multigenerational workplace, it’s important to evaluate your own biases. We all have them, and they can often cloud our judgment.

For example, you might be biased against millennials because you think they’re entitled or are always on their phones. But chances are, you know at least one millennial who doesn’t fit that stereotype.

And, even if they do, does that mean they’re not a good employee? Of course not. In many ways, they might be precisely what your business needs.

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On the other hand, if you’re a millennial, you might have preconceptions about baby boomers or Gen Xers. Maybe you think they’re out of touch or don’t value inclusion and diversity as much as you do. But that’s not always the case.

In fact, many Fortune 500 companies are led by these two generations, and they’re some of the world’s most inclusive and diverse workplaces. Just look at Google, Cisco, and IBM.

Often, as leaders, we become the multigenerational workforce challenges we want to avoid. If you want to lead a multi-generational workplace effectively, you need to understand your own biases and how they can become a barrier to success.

7. Encourage Mentorship

Mentorship is a great way to manage a multigenerational workplace. It creates a sense of community among your team and allows different generations to learn from one another.

For example, an employee with the company for 20 years can mentor a newer employee on the company’s history, culture, and values. [2]

And in the same way, a Generation Z employee can teach older employees about the latest technology, social media trends, and how to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing world.

Many companies mistake mentoring for mimicking, but it’s much more than passing down information. It creates relationships built on trust, respect, and shared goals. When your team has that, they can achieve anything. And that’s what you want in a multigenerational workplace.

8. Budget for Leadership Training

A healthy workplace takes time, effort, and resources to maintain. That’s why creating a budget for executive coaching, retreats, and conferences should be a top priority for multigenerational workplace managers. After all, leadership starts at the top.

When you invest in your development, you set the tone for your team. You’re saying you’re committed to growth, learning, and change. And that sends a powerful message to your team.

So, what are some things you should include in your training budget?

  • Leadership development workshops
  • Inclusion and diversity training
  • Conflict resolution courses
  • Communication seminars
  • One-on-one coaching

The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you can include. Just make sure you take the time to invest in yourself as a leader. It’ll pay off tenfold in the long run.

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9. Promote a Work-Life Balance

Every generation values work-life balance differently.

For baby boomers and Generation X, it might mean having the time to pursue their hobbies and interests outside work. For millennials, it might mean more flexible hours to spend time with family or friends. And for Generation Z, it might mean taking time out for mental health days or extended vacations. They all differ, and that’s okay.

The important thing is that you, as a manager, make an effort to understand what work-life balance means for each of your employees. Then, do your best to offer options that work for everyone. And one of the best ways to do this is by providing flexible work hours.

When you give your team the freedom to create their schedules, you show them that you trust them and give them the power to take control of their time. [3]

That’s something everyone can appreciate regardless of their generation.

10. Partner With Human Resources

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Having an engaged HR team could help you enjoy the benefits of a multigenerational workforce.

Human Resources is there for a reason. They can help you navigate the complexities of managing a multigenerational workplace and provide valuable insights into company policies, procedures, and benefits.

They’re also a great resource regarding compliance issues, training opportunities, and resolving conflicts. So, if you feel overwhelmed, reach out to your HR team. They’ll be more than happy to help you and give you the support you need to succeed.

11. Be Patient

Lastly, being patient is one of the essential tips for managing a multigenerational workplace.

Give yourself and your team time to adjust to each other’s communication styles, work habits, and ways of thinking. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually, you’ll find a rhythm that works for everyone.

How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)

How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce

6 Actions
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Encourage an Open-Minded Attitude: Start by listening to your employees and letting them share their opinions. Regardless of age, everyone has to be heard or feel heard especially by their leader.
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Promote a Culture of Learning: Different generations have different expectations, working styles, and motivations. When a culture of learning is encouraged, your employees can have an environment that inspires them to learn from one another instead of focusing on their differences.
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Encourage Cross-Generational Collaboration. Let your people work with one another despite their age. This encourages them to share their ideas which creates a more innovative approach to things.
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Evaluate Your Own Biases. As a leader, you may have your own biases against other generations. Learn to set this aside and avoid the barriers that can hinder success and encourage mentorship.
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Budget for Leadership Training. If you have the budget, investing in leadership training can help your people act accordingly and implement the values you want to instill.
How To Manage A Multigenerational Workforce (11 Tips)
Promote a Work-Life Balance. Every generation has its own description of how to have a balanced life. Try to find common ground and provide the best solution that caters to all generations. Also, don’t forget to incorporate fun!

Conclusion

Remember, managing a multigenerational workplace is a marathon, not a sprint. So, take your time, learn from your mistakes, and give your team the grace they need to do the same.

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By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to creating a multigenerational workplace that’s productive, cohesive, and inclusive for everyone. And that’s a goal worth working towards.

Featured photo credit: Shridhar Gupta via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dr. Colleen Batchelder

Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Leadership Strategist | Executive Coach | Dr. Batchelder teaches business leaders how to create corporations where Millennials want to work.

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