How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce and Not Go Totally Insane

Multigenerational management refers to managing the four generations of employees that are now entering the workforce and one-size does not fit all. Each group is uniquely individual. Today's multigenerational workforce includes the Pre-Boomers (Born 1925-1945), also know as The Silent Generation and Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964), Generation X (Born 1965-1976), and Generation Y, also know as The Millennials (Born 1977-1994). If you manage or own a business that hires employees, a good chunk of your time is easily spent finding countless ways for this group to work in harmony and it can be a total hit or miss unless you know what motivates each group. One of the most challenging aspects of managing multiple generations in the workplace is getting each group to respect the unique talents of the other.

"We have to move beyond stereotypes and always have an open mind," said Dr. James Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship and national speaker with WeSpeakWorldwide.com speakers bureau. "Managers and employees have to understand that great ideas, creativity and innovation come in all shapes, sizes and ages. We have to have a greater respect across generations to understand that everyone comes to the workplace with a set of skills and contributions."

Each generation, the Pre-Boomers, Baby Boomers, X and Y, all come to the workplace with a distinct set of values, attitudes and behaviors. In addition, each has their own expectations, priorities, approaches, work and communication styles. When managed properly, businesses will discover their competitive edge by utilizing the talents and skills of each generation to get the optimal performance from each group. Because each group is very different from the other, managers have to rethink hiring practices, managing styles, rewards, training and retention of their employees.

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Creating Teams of Multigenerational Employees Can Help
  • Help each generation to understand each other and to work more effectively together. Host an initial training on each generational style and characteristics.
  • Create effective multigenerational teams by publicly identifying each person's skills in the group. i.e., "Richard has years of experience in graphic design which may benefit your group's presentation."
  • Develop clear goals and expectations for each team.
  • Hold every member accountable for their individual group participation, i.e., "What role did you play in this project?"
  • Offer ongoing formal feedback to modify behavior and performance. Meet with each team individually to monitor their success and challenges.

Managers are forewarned not to ignore the differences of each generations' characteristics. Best practice is to conduct regular training sessions for all employees and to require supervisors to attend multigenerational management training.

Janice Celeste travels and speaks at conferences and conventions on the topic of multigenerational management, which includes her seminar on "Managing Millennials For Optimal Performance." You can find out more information at WeSpeakWorlwide.com.