How do You Handle Generational Differences in the Workplace?

4 Tips for Managing Generational Differences in the Workplace

generational differences in the workplaceManaging a team that includes Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials is challenging for many managers. Now that Generation Z will soon be graduating college and entering the workforce, maybe it’s time to look at how you handle generational differences in the workplace.

After all, pigeon-holing your staff into expected generational behaviors can be dangerous. You don’t want to assign a personality to someone based on what you read in a magazine about how each generation differs.

Generational differences in the workplace can inform you about some of the natural tension that happens in a typical office where people of many different ages collaborate on projects and processes. It’s important, though, to see your employees as individuals with their own preferences and styles. Here are four tips on managing a team of varying generations:

Spend some time with your Generation X employees. Generation X employees often have a strong independent streak. However, just because these employees aren’t voicing their desire for more feedback and interaction, doesn’t mean they don’t value it. Don’t let your Generation X employees become loners, and be sure to invest in their development.

Talk about work ethic. Work ethic debates are, generally, conversations about which hours are work hours. Often your Baby Boomers have a desire to be on a nine to five schedule with little variation, while your Millennials may want spend less time in the office and more timing working remotely.

It’s easy for this to cause a work ethic debate and tensions may simmer for a long time before they boil over with resentment, so get the topic out into the light. Talk about what you expect from your employees and if it’s okay for them to work from home or adjust their hours to fit other demands in their schedule, then communicate that to your employees.

Address the technical divide. Baby Boomers may sometimes need an extra push to use technology that throws them into new territory, but don’t forget to address the other end of this extreme, too. Millennials may need encouraged to make a few live phone calls or have more meetings face-to-face in order to connect well with the Baby Boomers in your workplace.

This is another area where it’s important to simply have an honest discussion about the challenges of multiple generations preferring different communication formats. It’s easier to find common ground when various employees acknowledge that good communication is, in general, a valuable goal to pursue.

Overall, know your employees. When it comes down to it, generational stereotypes are just that. You can gain a lot more information about your employees by learning about them as individuals and using a tool like a behavioral assessment. These detailed, objective analyses give you valuable information about the behaviors, tendencies and motivations of your employees.

To learn more about how to solve generational differences in the workplace, invest in a behavioral assessment like PI Consulting Group’s PI System. You’ll find out what makes your stars so successful and how to match your employees to their best possible job position. Give us a call to talk more about your business and the unique challenges in your talent management situation.