Generational Management — Part 2

Having identified the various generations in the workplace, their characteristics, and the potential conflicts, how do you manage different generations?

  • Send your managers to class. They need to learn to recognize generational differences and adapt.
  • Facilitate mentoring. Match different aged employees to encourage more cross-generational interaction.
  • Offer different working options. Allow telecommuting and working offsite.
  • Focus on the results. Make sure the focus is on what the employees produce rather than on how they get it done.
  • Accommodate different learning styles. Utilize a variety of training methods and venues.
  • Keep all employees engaged. Provide them with regular educational and training opportunities as well as career advice.
  • Open up the office. Do not allow the office to be a cloistered environment.
  • Toss the routines. Recognize that younger employees feel constrained with a rigid schedule.
  • Customize motivation and incentives. Be sensitive to what programs motivate each generation.
  • Give all employees a voice. Older employees have a point of view. Younger employees want to be heard.
  • Don’t confuse character issues like immaturity, laziness or intractability with generational traits. Recognize that younger generations work don’t necessarily work fewer hours, they just choose to work those hours on something other than a 9-to-5 schedule.
  • Age differences should be built into diversity training taken by all employees. It is common to emphasize race, gender, and sexual preference. Age has to be a part of the training also.
  • Think skills, not age. Experience cannot be solely defined in terms of years. Likewise, age does not prevent an employee from possessing the latest and greatest skills.
  • Emphasize commonality. It’s easy for employees to become adversarial when they focus on their differences. Continually remind your team of its common goals.
  • Respect competence and initiative. Treat everyone, from the newest recruit to the most seasoned employee, as if they have great things to offer and are motivated to do their best.
  • Draw on the strength of each generation. Reject the tendency to impose your generational approach on that of your team.
  • Adapt your management style for each generation. The point is that you can’t manage according to your value system. Rather, you need to manage according to the employee’s value system.
  • Accept what you cannot change. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change the generations.
  • Adjust how you communicate with your team. Recognize the need for diverse and ever-changing communication methods.

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