As Baby Boomers stay in the workplace for longer, and Gen Z’s are beginning to enter, businesses are seeing one of the widest age ranges in history. Managing a multi-generational workplace comes with a raft of issues that business owners and managers haven’t had to deal with before. It also opens a wealth of potential for building stronger and better businesses for the future.
Some of the major issues in a multi-generational workplace may include gaps in communication, varying management styles and expectations, and differing tech-knowledge and work experience. However, with some careful thinking and planning, these issues can be turned into strengths.
With Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tending towards more extended, more thoughtful communication styles such as letters and emails, and Millennials and Gen Zers preferring quick shorthand texts and messages, there are bound to be misunderstandings in cross-generation communications. Setting clear workplace-wide communication standards will define expectations and minimise miscommunication. Managers should ask themselves when it’s appropriate to send a quick message as opposed to the need for a more thought out email or memo.
Considering proper communication tools for your business is also going to be crucial in not disenfranchising any one generation. Reliance on quick chat tools such as Slack may be ideal for younger staff but could cause a significant block for your older team members, reducing the tool’s effectiveness.
Not only do the different generations have quite varied management styles and expectations, but we are also seeing more younger staff managing Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. While Millennials are often promoted for their digital skillset, flexibility and, way of working, their lack of leadership skills experience can lead to significant issues across your team. Baby Boomers can often find the more open, collaborative approach taken by Millennials to be a concern. It is essential to ensure your leadership team have the training, support and mentorship needed to manage their team effectively.
New challenges in managing multi-generational workplaces need to be addressed with the flexibility to produce effective multi-age groups. Consider how your office layout works for everyone. We tend to consider the impact of open-plan offices on introverts and extroverts, but we also must asses different types of settings that enables multi-aged teams to work productively. Ensure that your systems and digital tools are user-friendly across the board and understand the varying levels of support required for different groups.
As leaders of multi-generational offices, it is essential to step back and plan ways to get the best out of your team. And, don’t forget, as much as there are many differences across generations, there are also many commonalities. Focus on what your staff bring to the table, individually, to create cohesive and productive work teams.
WorkPlan’s Building Leadership Structured Program is a proven tool to improve communication and relationships for your leadership team, the program how to identify different behavioural styles and communicate more effectively with each one regardless of the situation. Click here for more information or get in touch with us today.
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