Managing the Melting Pot

Unless you’ve been living in a digital desert, you’ve surely noticed a headline that reads something like this: “Millennials are killing the chain restaurant industry.” Or perhaps you’ve heard a younger person make a crack about the lack of tech-savviness prevalent among Baby Boomers. And surely you’ve seen the Gen-Xer middle-aged caricatures, the manager-seeking Karen as well as Tom after buying insurance! 

Like it or not, today’s workforce is a mix of several generations. Last week, we took a look at the attributes and work habits of the various generations that can be found in today’s workplace. Generational conflict can be a serious problem, as shown by a recent study. According to the Society of Human Resource Managers, “almost 25% of HR professionals reported generational conflict in their workplace, and a full 60% of employers are experiencing tension between employees of different generations. While 47% of younger employees surveyed complained that older managers were resistant to change, 33% of older employees found younger workers’ informality and need for supervision problematic.” Given that, it is crucial that you encourage cohesiveness and discourage stereotypes among your employees. Here are some tips and tricks that you can put into place immediately to facilitate a harmonious office! 

Don’t Assume! 

Despite the fact that it is illegal to ask an employee their age, there are subtle ways that you can make an educated guess about what generation they belong to. Questions such as “Should I call you or text you?” or “What did you do this weekend?” can give you clues. This can give you some background knowledge into this person’s communication or work style preferences. However, don’t automatically assume that a Millennial wants to do everything virtually. Or that a Baby Boomer wouldn’t appreciate an email over a face-to-face meeting. Learning your employees’ communication preferences goes a long way. 

Mix it Up

For the most part, face to face meetings are preferred by older generations while younger ones get annoyed by meetings they think could have been an email. It’s hard to balance how to communicate effectively with your workforce. Save the meetings for matters that require input and discussion among employees, and utilize email to disseminate straightforward information. Let your people know at the end of each email that they can always come to you for clarification or questions. This approach plays to the communication preferences of multiple generations and saves time. 

Get Complementary 

Millennials have the reputation of wanting to be told how great they are, but the truth is we all want to feel valued! Don’t lose sight of this, especially with the older generations. Regularly tell your employees what they are doing well, and encourage them to do the same for each other. 

Respect Boundaries 

In older generations, there was a clear distinction between bosses and workers. Today, the line between supervisors and employees is more blurred, especially in an industry that requires ample amounts of teamwork. With team-building activities, company events it’s difficult to maintain a balance between being likable and approachable and being in charge. It may take some trial-and-error before you strike that balance, there is no one set way to accomplish it. 

 

Do you have any additional tips or tricks to help the generational melting pot melt together? Comment below! 

 

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