Leading a multi-generational workplace

Never before have we experienced such a shift in our mindsets, expectations and the values as we shift from one generation to the next than we are experiencing now.

In any given workplace you can have Gen Xs, Gen Ys, Millennials and even some Boomers still in the mix.

The value systems, expectations and motivations for this broad mix of people are likely to be extremely different. Whereas those who are in their 60’s will have spent a lot of their working life in an autocratic work environment where the workers did the work they were directed to do and the leaders ruled and set the direction.

As a leader, how do you ensure all people in your team work together in harmony and collaboration? 

Younger generations expect a much flatter structure and value being heard and having a say. They also are more inclined to work to live and look to having their work fit in around their lifestyle and not the other way around. Leaders who appreciate and understand what makes each generation tick, is setting the foundation for adjusting their leadership and how they do things to meet the expectations and drivers of the people in their business. 

The talent and acquisition team at Robert Walters recently shed some light on the characteristics of each generation explains the characteristics of each generation; 

Generation X: efficient coaches

Gen X folks (born between 1965 and 1980) are slowly becoming the seasoned pros in the workplace. Like the baby boomers before them, they’re loyal, upbeat, and go-getters. They enjoy mentoring younger colleagues, sharing their know-how. This no-nonsense bunch is all about getting things done efficiently, with a down-to-earth, business-savvy attitude.

Generation Y or millenials: flexible team players

The cohort born between 1981 and 1995 has brought attention to work-life balance, flexible schedules, and, especially since the onset of the pandemic, hybrid work arrangements. Millennials, with their strong sense of responsibility, aim for a trusting relationship with their employers.

They value mutual flexibility above all else. Authenticity matters greatly to Generation Y, and they are eager to contribute meaningfully to their organizations. Moreover, millennials are known for their teamwork and prioritize fostering a positive office atmosphere.

Generation Z: creative multi-taskers

With this generation (born between 1996 and 2010), the first ‘digital natives’ – born into the digital age – are joining the workplace. 

They’re tech-savvy, effortlessly navigating various platforms and adept at quickly sorting through information—a true embodiment of multitasking. Gen Z, also dubbed ‘Zoomers’, boasts a creative streak, thriving on the freedom to innovate. Sustainability is a defining trait of this generation; they prioritize eco-friendly practices and expect their employers to take proactive steps in this regard. This ethos extends to their office conduct, influencing older colleagues positively, fostering a newfound environmental consciousness.

Leaders need to embrace the values, skills and knowledge of each of these differing age groups in the workplace and encourage collaboration and the ability to get the best out of everyone. For example the older generations will have plenty of experience and know-how.

The younger generations can help them with learning, transitioning and upskilling to new technological platforms and new ways of doing things when using technology. Each generation should be encouraged to learn from each other and facilitate a sharing of skills and information.

Leaders can facilitate this by creating a collaborative culture, setting up communication platforms that allow for collective collaboration and pursuing a team effort approach to projects. 

Leaders also need to appreciate the key drivers of the generations within their team. Younger generations are much more environmentally focussed and driven by sustainability. Is the business reflecting these values back to them? What can the business do to become more sustainable and therefore weave this into their purpose allowing their staff to work for a company they can believe in, one that reflects what they stand for. 

Millennials appreciate greater flexibility in their work as opposed to the increasingly outdated 9-5 business model. How can business leaders adapt their work model to allow for this greater flexibility, to support their employees’ life outside of work? 

Business leaders who have a good appreciation of the different people in their organisation can adapt and change to suit the current and emerging drivers and characteristics. 

Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’ll share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

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