Managing people is hard. Managing people with different generational perspectives – which may influence their communication preferences, loyalty and work styles – is even harder. But today, with a workforce comprised of five generations, it’s reality. Add to that the challenges and preferences associated with managing people in different career stages, and the puzzle becomes even more complex.

So, how do you manage, and not just manage, but really engage, such a broad and diverse group of people?

  1. Avoid generational stereotypes. Generations are not one-size-fits-all. Everyone is an individual, and deserves to be treated as such. It’s important to understand generational preferences, but don’t label people based on their generation. Instead, get to know your employees and teammates as individuals, including their motivations, challenges and preferences.
  2. Focus on commonalities. Believe it or not, people are more alike than they are different. It’s important to understand differences, but focus on the similarities. Regardless of when an employee was born, chances are he or she wants to feel like they are contributing to their company as a whole; they want to be challenged in their job; and they want to be recognized for a job well-done. This is true whether you’re talking about someone who’s brand new to the working world, or someone with decades of experience. Embrace the similarities.
  3. Be flexible. Some people may work best at their desk. Others might prefer taking their laptop outside for some fresh air and new perspective. One employee might be a morning person, while another prefers to burn the midnight oil. Be flexible with when and where the work gets done; flexibility makes people feel valued, and in turn, more engaged. 
    Be flexible with when and where the work gets done; flexibility makes people feel valued, and in turn, more engaged.Click To Tweet
  4. Be aware of communication styles and preferences. And, to point number one, I’m not talking about stereotypical preferences. Just because someone from Gen Z is technologically savvy doesn’t mean they don’t also crave face-to-face interaction. Ask people how they want to be communicated with, and adapt your management style to meet their needs.
  5. Champion the culture. Invest time and resources into building – and maintaining – a culture that values everyone’s contributions, and encourages people to treat others as they want to be treated. All people want to be treated with respect, regardless of age, position or level.
  6. Expand the definition of diversity within your team structure. For a long time, people have defined diversity by race or gender. Moving beyond those two categories to include generational diversity and generational inclusion will provide new perspectives and thinking.

While the multigenerational workforce of today presents unique challenges, it also provides tremendous opportunities – including the ability to share knowledge from generation to generation, to create mentoring relationships where people learn from one another, and the chance to bring together differing perspectives to create fresh new ways of problem solving. The opportunity is yours – embrace it.

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