How to Handle Generational Issues in the Workplace
“Can’t we all get along?”
The workplace brings us many challenges, one of which is the dynamic of four different generations working together all at the same time and same place. Each generation brings with it a unique set of characteristics, expectations, and experiences, which make it important for managers to acknowledge, understand, and respect the generational differences in order to bridge the gaps and work together cohesively. Yes, we can all get along if we understand and implement very basic strategies with all four generations.
Here are some best practices to consider with each segment.
Veterans— Born before 1943, Veterans are dedicated, hard working, and have respect for authority. It’s best to maintain an environment of certainty, conformity to rules, and clearly stated objectives. Introduce change gradually, explain the reason for the change, and state clearly who benefits by the change. Be sure to mention that their experience is valued.
Boomers— Born between 1943 and 1960, Boomers are generally optimistic, value health and wellness, appreciate involvement, and relationships are important to them. Be sure to acknowledge their accomplishments, establish clearly defined budget goals, clearly articulate the outcomes desired, and be careful with feedback that may appear overly critical.
Generation Xers— Born between 1960 and 1980, Gen Xers are dedicated to work/life balance, may have a more casual approach to authority, and are self-reliant. This group is not intimidated by authority and is techno-literate. Situations that require adaptability and creativity turn this group on. Include a lot of people-skills training with this group, and whenever possible, allow them to “do it their way.”
Millennials— Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials bring a lot of confidence and comfort level with diversity. They are very social and very technology oriented. Supervise this group closely, and train to handle difficult people issues. Add structure to their job, and clearly state language and dress code requirements.
In spite of the differences, all generations require respect, trustworthy management and leadership, and appreciation for the accomplishments they achieve.
Intergenerational mentoring, coaching, and tutoring are great opportunities to inspire and ensure that there is a productive succession of ability and talent when the eldest generation leaves the workplace.