November 26, 2022

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How to Best Manage Employees from Different Generations

Today’s workplace is a mixture of employees from different generations. This can create some challenges in terms of managing employees effectively. 

If you’re many other business owners, managers, or leaders out there, you’ve struggled to find the best way to manage your employees from different generations. 

Here are a few tips on how to do just that.

Understand the Different Generations in Your Workforce

In order to manage employees from different generations effectively, it’s important to first understand the unique characteristics of each generation. Here’s a quick overview:

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): This generation is known for being hardworking, loyal, and dedicated. They’re also often resistant to change and may be uncomfortable with new technology.

Generation X (born 1965-1980): This generation is often described as independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. They’re comfortable with change and adapt quickly to new technology.

Millennials (born 1981-1996): This generation is known for being tech-savvy, social media-obsessed, and highly educated. They’re also often accused of being entitled and narcissistic.

Each generation has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to manage them in a way that leverages their strengths and mitigates their weaknesses. Below, you’ll find methods that have proven effective for many companies.

Create a Workplace That Supports Employees of All Ages

When managing employees from different generations, it’s important to create a workplace environment in which each generation feels comfortable. Here are a few things you can do to welcome all age groups:

Adjust Your Workplace Culture

A strong company culture can help you attract the best talent and retain employees. There are many online tools that can help you create a company values statement, mission statement, and create vision and direction statements. You can also hold company-wide meetings to discuss your workplace culture and address any issues as they arise.

“We strive to be a company that our employees are proud to work for,” says Stefan Sharkansky,    President of Personal Fund. “That means we have to step up and listen to our employees when they have suggestions for how we can improve.”

Offer Flexible Work Options

Millennials might get dubbed the “work martyrs” in some circles because they’re often willing to put in long hours and take on more responsibilities at the cost of their personal lives. But offering flexible work options, such as working from home, remote work, or part-time work schedules can help alleviate work martyrdom and support employees of all ages.

“We offer flexible work options because we want our employees to have a good work-life balance,” says Chris Gadek, Head of Growth at AdQuick. “We know that when our employees are happy, they’re more productive.”

Host Quarterly Events

Getting employees together in the same space can be a great way to build relationships, encourage collaboration, and improve morale. Try hosting quarterly events that bring all age groups together for fun social activities, such as happy hours, team-building activities, and guest speakers.

“We’ve found that quarterly events are a great way to get employees of all ages interacting with each other,” says Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “It’s a chance for everyone to let loose and have some fun.”

Create a Collaborative Work Environment

Collaboration is a great way to encourage innovation and creativity. You can encourage collaboration among employees from different generations by providing them with the tools to effectively communicate and work together, such as providing tech tools like online meeting rooms and virtual keyboards.

“I want my employees to feel like they can work together regardless of their age,” says Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer at Readers.com. “That’s why we provide them with the tools they need to communicate and collaborate effectively.”

Implement Effective Collaboration Strategies

Managing employees of different generations can sometimes call for specific collaboration strategies that match their unique characteristics and work styles. Here are a few collaboration strategies to try:

Build a Leadership Team

Building a team of leaders within your department can help you distribute the workload and take some pressure off of you. A leadership team is composed of managers with some experience who are responsible for building teams and mentoring new employees. 

You can choose members for your team based on what generation they represent or you can choose people who have both strengths and weaknesses but are eager to learn from their manager’s experience.

“I think it’s important to have a leadership team that represents all generations,” says Justin Olson, Chief Marketing Officer at Fast Pace Health. “It helps us to share our knowledge and experiences with each other.”

Engage in 360 Feedback

Feedback is a great way to support all employees and helps you identify areas for improvement. You can use 360-degree feedback to conduct anonymous surveys and get feedback from your team members and their peers. This will help you understand how others view your leadership style and give you insight into how you can improve your management skills.

“I like to look at feedback as a gift,” says Dr. Michael Green, Chief Medical Officer at Winona. “It helps me to understand how I can be a better manager and how I can support my team.”

Make the Most of Weekly Meetings

Weekly meetings are a great way to connect with your team members, stay on top of company deadlines and projects, and share company news. Make sure to include all team members, regardless of their generation, and encourage open dialogue where everyone can share what’s on their minds.

“I want everyone on my team to feel like they have a voice,” says Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer at videeo.live. “That’s why I make sure to include everyone in our weekly meetings. It’s often that we get some really great ideas from team members who we may not have heard from otherwise.”

Hold Effective One-On-One Meetings With Employees

One-on-one meetings are an excellent way to connect with employees and give them the feedback they need to grow and improve. When meeting with each employee, be sure to tailor your strategy to the generation they represent. Here are a few tips for holding effective one-on-one meetings:

Select a Meeting Location

Where you hold your meeting can greatly affect how productive it is. While some employees may prefer to meet in their office, others may want to meet on neutral ground. Try picking a location that makes each employee feel comfortable—whether that’s in their office, a coffee shop, or a conference room.

“The location of your meetings can actually make a big difference in how productive they are,” says Sumeer Kaur, CEO of Lashkaraa. “I try to mix them up to keep our meetings fresh and exciting.”

Establish Expectations

Before you dive into each meeting, you should have a clear understanding of the expectations for the meeting. What do you want to accomplish in the meeting? What would make the meeting successful? How long do you plan on meeting for? These are all questions you should have answered before you meet with each employee.

“I like to start each meeting by setting the expectations for the meeting,” says Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “That way, everyone knows what we’re trying to accomplish, and we can use our time effectively.”

Manage Your Time Well

It’s important to manage your time wisely when holding one-on-one meetings. You don’t want to make an employee feel rushed or as though you don’t have enough time to meet with them. You also don’t want to spend too much time on one meeting when you have other employees to meet with.

Create a Recognition Program to Build Employee Engagement and Recognition

A recognition program can help you engage your employees and build positive relationships with them. It’s important to include everyone in your organization and tailor the recognition program to each generation. Here are a few ways to build an effective recognition program: 

Create a Recognition Program

You can easily create an online recognition program on a platform like Hubbub. You can create different recognition categories based on your organization’s values and goals. You can also create employee recognition cards that can be sent via email or printed out and given in person.

Celebrate Milestones

Recognizing employees for their milestones is a great way to celebrate their hard work and give them positive reinforcement. Milestones can be major life events, such as a wedding or a child being born, or work-related events, like a promotion or reaching a company milestone.

“Who doesn’t appreciate being recognized for a job well done? We all do,” says Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce at La Blanca. “But different generations have different ideas about what constitutes a ‘job well done’ and how that recognition should be delivered.”

For example, Baby Boomers generally prefer public recognition, such as an announcement at a company meeting, whereas Millennials are more likely to appreciate a private pat on the back or a mention in an email.

Create a Culture of Thanks

Being thankful for your employees’ hard work and efforts is important, but it shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Creating a culture of thanks and appreciation for your employees can help them feel appreciated and engaged in their work.

Conclusion

In order to best manage employees from different generations, it is important to understand the unique needs and expectations of each group. While baby boomers may value face-to-face interaction and formal communication, millennials often prefer digital channels and informal feedback. 

By catering to the preferences of each generation, managers can create a work environment that is cohesive and productive.