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Navigating The Multigenerational Workplace

Lucy Barkas KPI

We have been working with a number of clients that are facing one very common problem. They are all facing the challenge of managing people with completely difference beliefs and attitudes about work, and it’s causing conflict and stress.

Here are some of the stereotyped attitudes we are facing:

The older folk think they know it all, but they just don’t get how the world works now.

The older generation are just waiting out for retirement and don’t work as hard as us.

These youngsters are all so impatient and think they can be experts in just a few months.

This YOLO attitude means that if these youngsters aren’t instantly progressing then they should quit. There is no patience and loyalty.

These young people all need their hand holding and want to be included in everything. Why can’t they just get on with the job.

Work should be hard, but these young ones just think about the experience.

The trouble with generation x is that they want to talk about everything. What’s wrong with an email or text?

I can’t believe they are banning social media, don’t they know that we can multitasks?

Do any of these sound familiar? For most organisations, a 5 generation workforce is becoming more and more common, especially with the increase in apprenticeships, and people retiring later because of changes in pensions. What’s more, what was considered as old 20 years ago is quite different to the energetic, switched on 60 somethings of today. The generational mix is not changing anytime soon.

So how can Managers and Leaders create an environment where everyone feels appreciated, motivated and valued?

  1. Ask your people what they need? So many of us manage by short cuts. We make judgements about people based on previous experiences, but everyone is different. Some more experienced people may want to be left to get on with their work, but others may need more support as the technology and systems are quickly changing. Some younger people may want to learn by doing, others may need more direction and support. By forming a relationship with your people you will gain valuable information about what they want and need. From here you can manage them based on their needs and tap into their internal motivations.
  2. Buddy confidence with competence. The more experienced people may not work at 100 miles an hour flat out, mainly because they have the experience to work smarter and more effectively. Using their knowledge and experience to mentor and guide your newest recruits will enable knowledge transfer and ensure that you are using their strengths to build a sustainable workforce.
  3. Adapt your communication style. We all have our preferences to receiving and processing information, regardless of age. So many managers fail to communicate effectively because they choose the medium that they prefer.