Managing across generations

December 11 2018
Managing across generations

During your time in management, there is no doubt that you will be working with people of all different ages. With five generations – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Milennials and Gen Z – now inhabiting the workforce, it’s likely that you will be in charge of a diverse team that may require some careful management to work together effectively. Different personalities and expectations can be misinterpreted as generational stereotypes, which create tension and division in the office. If you’re a leader of employees across all ages, take some time to read our five tips for successful multi-generational management. 

Don’t make assumptions 

Looking past generational stereotypes is key in creating a working atmosphere that benefits all employees. Defining your team by traits or abilities that you assume are correlated with age not only risks offence, but also inadvertently thwarts career advancement if workers are being unnecessarily held back from certain tasks. People often have a surprising range of skills and knowledge across many areas, so don’t assume that someone is lacking in know-how just because of their generation bracket. 

Remember that each generation is diverse 

It’s important to live by the sentiment that everyone is different when it comes to managing a team. People’s personalities, skills and working methods will divert greatly across a typical generation; remember that some are quite big (they can have 20-year spans), so it’s only natural to come across a range of individuals with unique traits rather than a prescribed set of characteristics. 

Look to cross-generational partnerships 

As workplaces have changed over time, you might notice some disparities between the expectations and methods of older and younger employees. These differences could potentially lead to clashes, so minimise the potential for conflict by encouraging cross-generational collaboration. Establishing working partnerships between employees from different age groups allows each party to bring their strengths to the table – your team can not only learn from each other, but also feel appreciated for their unique contribution. Cross-generational teamwork encourages employees to stand in each other’s shoes when it comes to brainstorming, problem solving or understanding another worker’s approach. 

Adapt your management style 

If you’re dealing with people across all ages, you may find that you need to individualise your leadership style depending on the team member. People respond differently to management methods, so what may be effective in facilitating productivity or collaboration in one worker may be unhelpful when guiding another. Make an effort to spend some time with each employee so you get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and work out how you should approach the worker to get the best out of them. 

Look at employees as individuals rather than an age 

Removing generational labels from your leadership lexicon is important if you want to effectively manage across all ages. Combatting stereotype in the workplace starts from the top down – don’t look at people by their generation bracket, but encourage every worker to focus on what each employee can bring to the company as an individual with different skills, knowledge and experience.