Last time, we looked at the differences between the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials  – their value systems and what they want from a job. You may want to read part 1 of The 10-minute guide to managing multi-generational workforcesbefore continuing.

So how to manage these different cohorts?

Tip 1: Encourage cross-generational mentoring.

Faced with these diverse cohorts, managers who see their role as facilitators instead of enforcers obtain much better results. Start by encouraging cross-generational interaction through mentoring and coaching. Older workers have a lot of wisdom and experience to impart to younger ones, who in turn can share their fresh perspectives. Everybody wins.

And don’t forget “reverse” mentoring by allowing Gen Xers or Millenials to mentor older generations in the latest technologies and concepts.

Tip 2: Focus on results, not on how they get there.

Each group is empowered differently and often manages their workload differently. No wonder they all need different productivity and career management solutions. Many managers spend their time trying to bring everyone to the same processes and platforms to get work done. Guess what? It ain’t working, is it? Focus on the results instead of how employees accomplish their jobs with options like working offsite or job-sharing. Millennials may want to catch up on work at a café on Sunday evenings, whereas Boomers who watch Gen Xers job-share may be more comfortable using that approach to scale back on hours prior to retirement. 

Tip 3: Cater to their learning styles.

You may not like this. It’s more work for you, but as managers, we have no choice but to accommodate different learning styles. Boomers may favor more traditional and static training methods like Power Point presentations and handbooks. Younger workers may gravitate towards more interactive, technology-based learning. Accommodate personal employee needs, too, while avoiding morale-sapping favoritism.

Tip 4: Pick your means of communication.

Millennials prefer open collaboration in which employees share information and everybody contributes to decision-making. Avoid dictating a method of communication, however. Boomers may prefer in-person or phone contact, while Millennials are accustomed to emailing, texting, sending instant messages, or posting to social media sites.

Tip 5: Recognize their work differently.

All generations want to be recognized, but they all like different ways to be appreciated. Fit the type of recognition to the cohort. Gen Xers are fine with a simple a pat on the back or an email (cc: their boss or anybody they respect inside the company), while Boomers like an office-wide memo touting their successes. Millennials tend to appreciate increased responsibility and additional training opportunities, but they also appreciate the social “shout out.” Tweet them an “atta-boy” or post on the company’s social platform how thankful you are for whatever they did.  Also, older generations like to be recognized for goal achievement, while younger generations appreciate being called out for values or behaviors.

There you have it. In 10 minutes or less, you are now a multi-generational manager. 

Have a tip to share?  Post in the comments.

12 November 2013

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