In today’s global business world, organisations are made up of an increasingly age-variant workforce. As people retire later and are joined by school leavers and graduates, multi-generational teams are becoming the norm. But leading such diverse teams has its challenges.
As a recruiter, I’ve seen both clients and candidates struggle with the conflict that can arise as different age groups attempt to work with team members who have very different workings styles.
Older workers may find it challenging to understand the drivers behind graduates.
While younger employees have often reported feeling a sense of frustration that they don’t stand a chance of being promoted compared to their more experienced or longer serving team members.
And yet on top of this, a recent Business Insider survey found that more than 75% of Gen Z workers believed that they should be promoted within their first year of work!
With different drivers and motivation, as well as styles of working, leaders need to use their emotional intelligence to understand and harness each group and get the best out of their multi-generational team.
In this article, I will look at the different age groups that make up many of today’s companies and explore the different wants and needs, motivations and drivers that each group exhibits.
Which then gives you a direction to follow when it comes to working, successfully with your team.
Baby Boomers – Loyal
The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, were raised at a time when a strict hierarchy was observed from family to workplace, and this group accepts what it considers to be a natural chain of command.
Boomers are unlikely to seek out senior management to discuss any issues, and so need to be drawn out to access their often-valuable input.
They value job security and are loyal to their employer. Believing experience and longevity in a role should be sufficient to gain respect from others; which can see them at odds with younger team members.
Showing them you value their contribution will make them feel appreciated and empowered and can help break down barriers to them offering suggestions unprompted.
To engage them with younger team members, encourage them to work together, sharing their knowledge and experience. It could be that the Millennials can teach them something too!
Generation X – Autonomous
Gen X, 1995 – 1980 differ from their predecessors in that they enjoy change, freedom and a degree of autonomy in the workplace.
This group place less emphasis on seniority without the backing of merit, but they differ in that they are more willing to embrace the concept of working additional hours to achieve their career goals.
With access to technology while growing up, they are creative and enjoy a challenge. To engage and encourage them to stay with your business, they need to be offered opportunity – finding out what motivates them will keep them on side and less likely to look for other opportunities.
They need work-life balance but are more likely to accept more extended hours than younger generations. If you demonstrate your appreciation of their commitment by offering flexible working terms or working from home options, they will return the favour with loyalty.
Give this generation a degree of autonomy, and they will be the next leaders who will direct your company to success.
Millennials-Generation Y – Energetic
Probably the best known of all, Gen Y, or Millennials (1981 – 1996), have had some bad publicity.
Even Time Magazine published an article stating that Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists. They certainly have a different outlook, but their many positive qualities include boundless energy and enthusiasm, innovation and creativity.
Demonstrating your leadership by displaying competence will enable you to gain their good opinion, and acceptance as someone who is highly credible and perhaps could be a mentor or coach to them.
Additionally, as Millennials want to feel involved, by including them in plans and listening to their suggestions, you can breathe new life into projects and challenge the status quo of practice.
Keep them engaged, offer them a transparent career pathway and training to help them achieve their goals, and you will fully embrace their trust, commitment and help them develop into excellent future leaders.
Generation Z – Open Mindset
Born between 1995 and 2015, the first influx of Gen Z is already in the workplace. High-tech and hyper-connected, this generation brings a brand-new set of behaviours and expectations into the organisations and companies they work with.
Recent reports suggest that 77 per cent of Gen Z would prefer a Millennial manager rather than a Gen X or Baby Boomer, implying that they feel most closely aligned to Millennials in ideals and preferences. And with an increased appetite for better work-life harmony to avoid burn out, it’s critical to offer them flexibility in their work.
Additionally, and despite their reliance on technology, Gen Z value supportive leadership and positive relationships in the workplace, so delivering a human element is vital in keeping retention levels high – check in with them regularly and offer timely, concise, feedback to keep them on track and motivated.
This generation also has a desire for knowledge but prefers to self-learn – so setting up online training platforms is ideal to embrace their independence.
Finally, Gen Z is the one to fully embrace diversity and inclusion – 63 per cent of Gen Z want to work with others who have diverse education and skill levels, and a further 20 per cent believe having individuals from different cultures is an essential element to creating a successful team.
There are many challenges to managing multigenerational teams, not least of all maintaining harmony amongst a diverse range of individuals with often differing worldviews and drivers.
But essentially, managing a diverse team simply requires good leadership.
And that leadership understands that each individual has significant motivations that work well to get the best out of them. By harnessing an understanding of what motivates, inhibits, encourages and drives each member of your team, you can enable them to work to peak level – both individually and together.
Diversity can bring added value – what one generation doesn’t enjoy another finds gratifying; what one believes to be mundane can inspire challenge for another.
By embracing the different values and drivers, you can bring to the melting pot all the positive factors for each generation to create a successful, cohesive team that embraces difference and thrives on diversity.
About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions
At Martin Veasey, we have been working with blue-chip and SME businesses for over 35 years, both in the UK and around the world.
We are an independent consultancy company with highly qualified staff, including many degree and Masters educated consultants, with memberships of professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the British Psychological Society.
We have unique expertise in hiring for senior roles in Board & Senior, Supply Chain & Logistics, Purchasing & Procurement, Manufacturing & Engineering, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, Sales, Human Resources, plus many more.
If you are looking to work with a highly accomplished recruiting partner, you can call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact today.