When working in a team, the personalities of each team member can clash with one another. So many colourful, distinct, and unique personalities are present that it can get in the way of working together. Add to this the fact that in a team, employees from different generations are mixed, which can lead to different results – it can lead to harmony and synergy, or it can lead to conflict and disagreements.
According to the Australian Career Services, about 11.9 million people are employed in the country, with 39 per cent of workers aged 45 years and above. On the other hand, young jobseekers aged 15 to 24 comprise 16 per cent of the total worker population. This fact only proves the diversity of workers regarding age and generation.
Employees in each age group have different work styles, experiences, and approaches. There are differences in communication styles, adaptability, cross-departmental collaboration, and technical skills. But at its core, these generational differences could be the key to team and organisation success.
Thankfully, each age group can bring something innovative and creative. Although it may seem complicated to manage the differences in perspective, remember that it is your job as the manager to help your employees showcase their potential.
What comprises the multi-generational workforce?
Those who were born between 1946-1964 are called Baby Boomers. Although they are approaching retirement age, most choose to remain at work. They value hard work, self-discipline, being self-assured, and being goal-oriented.
Those who were born between 1965-1980 are known as Gen X-ers. Although they are more often overlooked than the other generations, they are adaptable, direct, and independent.
Those who were born between 1980-1995 are known as Millennials. These individuals are more tech-savvy; they crave validation, reassurance, and recognition. Although this generation is hardworking, they struggle with financial security and seek a sense of achievement to do their best.
Those who were born between 1996-2015 are known as Gen Zs. They have just begun their foray into the workforce. They are known to be the most open-minded, diverse, and tech-savvy generation. What drives them are self-improvement and having a mission-oriented impact on the world.
Seven strategies to handle a multi-generational team
Each generation brings unique perspectives, work styles, and communication preferences. To effectively manage a diverse workforce, consider the following seven tips:
- Foster an inclusive culture: Encourage collaboration, respect, and appreciation for each generation’s strengths. Create an environment where all workers feel valued, regardless of age. Promote open dialogue and celebrate the diverse perspectives and experiences of your team.
- Encourage knowledge sharing: Facilitate opportunities for employees to share their expertise across generations. Encourage mentorship and reverse mentorship programs, where younger employees can share their tech-savviness with older colleagues and vice versa. This creates an atmosphere of continuous learning and bridges the generation gap.
- Promote flexibility: Different generations may have varying work-life balance and flexibility expectations. Provide options for flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks, whenever possible. Recognise that individual needs may differ and strive to accommodate them appropriately.
- Tailor communication styles: Understand that each generation may have different communication preferences. While some may prefer face-to-face interactions, others may rely on digital platforms. Adapt your communication strategies to cater to the preferences of different generations while ensuring precise and consistent communication across the entire team.
- Emphasise common goals and values: Unify your team around shared goals and values that transcend generational differences. Communicate the organisation’s mission and vision and highlight how everyone’s contributions align with them. This helps create a sense of purpose and fosters a cohesive work environment.
- Provide professional development opportunities: Offer training and development programs that address different generations’ specific needs and aspirations. Tailor learning initiatives to accommodate various learning styles and preferences. Encourage employees to expand their skill sets and support their career growth, regardless of age or experience level.
- Lead by example: As a manager, demonstrate inclusivity, adaptability, and respect for diversity. Show appreciation for the strengths of each generation and model the behaviours you expect from your team. Lead with empathy, actively listen to your employees, and be open to feedback and suggestions from all generations.
Everyone is unique, and not all traits or preferences can be generalised solely based on their generation. It’s essential to approach each team member individually and be flexible in your management approach, considering their unique skills, experiences, and aspirations.