The modern workforce now includes employees spanning four distinct generations. This may not seem significant, but the differences between these generations go beyond age—each has its own knowledge, strengths and weaknesses. Managers must know how to work with each to maintain a successful business.
Managing employees across various generations is difficult, but if you understand a little bit about each generation you will understand what motivates each to maximize their output and leads to a fulfilling opportunity for everyone.
As members of the World War II generation, Traditionalists are conventional, frugal and they command respect. Although most are now retired, they are still a part of the modern workforce. As a manager, you should reinforce their need for structure by formally acknowledging their successes and help younger employees follow the written chain of command when interacting with them. A little bit of officially recognized feedback will go a long way with these employees.
The United States predicted now to be the time when Baby Boomers begin retiring en masse, however they have extended their careers because of the recession. Their concern with their financial future and their desire to retire should not be taken lightly. Take advantage of their strong management skills and work ethic to help train your younger employees. Facilitate the passing of knowledge between generations, but remember that Baby Boomers tend to be independent, so let them do so as they feel comfortable. You shouldn’t worry about giving them too much freedom—Baby Boomers tend to be overachievers.
GenX employees are technologically and Internet savvy, and they also tend to be your entrepreneurial risk takers. Trust them to find inventive solutions to business problems and will help your business’s agility in this ever-changing world. However, GenX is the generation of instant gratification and they believe in a good work-life balance, so make sure they have the freedom to strike that balance or they will seek that elsewhere.
Apart from the Baby Boomers, GenY has been affected most by the recession. They are pragmatic and hard-working, but they are jaded by the recent economic downturn and its affect on their job-search. This frustration, fueled by their confidence with technology and social networking mindset, can cause issues for your company. Get them committed to your team by providing opportunities to support a good cause or continue their education. In addition to generational personalities, managers are having issues with the generational spread because they feel like the newest generation does not have the skills necessary to replace older generations in the workforce.