Managing Different Generations in the Workplace

Instructor: Allison Tanner
Leading teams of people from five generations presents a unique challenge! This lesson will help you learn how to manage different generations in the workplace.

Importance of Generations

You were recently promoted to manager in a top sales and marketing company. However, your boss tells you that you can't actually begin managing until you attend a training on managing different generations in the workplace. A bit annoyed and confused you ask your boss why you have to attend a training on such a subject. You know that people of all ages behave differently, its fine. Your boss kindly smiles at you and explains that generations are more than an 'age difference'. He goes on to tell you that you are correct; generations indicate the different periods of time in which people are born. Even more so, each generation has their own unique strengths and behaviors, related to the culture or customs that were relevant during their childhood.

With more than five generations working in your company, your boss goes on to tell you that it is important to learn the differences in generations, and gain valuable tools in managing through those differences, in order to be effective in your position as manager. At this training, you can get valuable tips and ideas on how to work with the various generations.

Managing Different Generations

Following this conversation, you reluctantly agree. After all, you really want this promotion. When you get to the training the woman at the check-in counter and the honorary speaker, Katie, tells you that she is excited to see managers supporting this program. It is extremely important. She further tells you that 'trainings' such as these, are the 'first' step to effectively managing different generations in the workplace.

Know the Generations

Katie begins the training by asking if everyone knows what a generation is. People quickly respond, saying 'the different time periods people were born in'. As she discusses what this time difference is she asks how many people are familiar with the baby boomers.

Hands fly in the air.

Katie explains that most people recognize the terms of big generations such as the boomers or millennials, however, what they don't pay attention to are the similarities between the generations.

The screen in front of you flashes to a picture depicting the different generations in the workplace today.

Generations in the workplace
Generations

Katie continues and asks the audience what they know about the different generations?

Many say:

The 'boomer' generation grew up post-WWII and many served in Vietnam and Korea.

The 'millennials' were born in the age of technology. Cell phones, computers, and laptops all became available.

All of these generational differences are highlighted in how we walk, talk, dress, and most importantly how we behave in the workplace.

So how do you handle this? What do you do when there are so many stereotypes?

Focus on Strengths

It is true, there may be differences, but you can't focus on them. If you spend all of your time thinking about the traditionalists who wear a suit and tie, or the Generation Zers who text you that they have arrived instead of saying hello, you won't be effective. Instead of focusing on the differences, focus on each person's unique qualities that contribute to the work environment. Ask yourself, what strengths does each person have to offer one another? Traditionalists may be extremely skilled at some specific tasks and the Generation Zers may be fantastic when it comes to working with technology.

Develop Multi-Generational Teams

This leads into the next point. Instead of separating the generations, pair them together. The older generations have a lot of knowledge they can contribute and the younger generations can learn from them.

As for the skilled and technology differences, you can have the traditionalists teach the Zers all about the work. The Zers can then translate this into programs, write reports, and post the information online. Zers and other young generations can also help the older generations to learn how to use the technology.

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