Managing Multiple Generations in the Workplace... how hard is it?
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
A few weeks ago, I was asked to participate in an article that would be published in a Hotel industry magazine. The subject, one that I am highly passionate for… “Working with Multiple Generations”.
The reality is, that it is easier said than done!
No matter what hospitality brand I am working with, or what cultural background their associates have, the primary challenges are interestingly always the same. With 4 and soon to be 5 generations in the workplace, it can be a challenge getting to know how to manage, how to motivate and lastly how to engage everyone on your team.
The editor asked me promptly, what were the three biggest generational differences I had observed throughout the years.
I had to stop and think hard…
You might be asking yourself why???...
Here is why…
It is difficult to name only three as the biggest generational differences. If I have to pick only three, I find Work Ethic & Values, Leadership Style and Communication as the most prominent differences between generations. Although, after my studies in the subject, I have found that some of these differences can also be similarities between the oldest and the youngest generations on the workforce these days.
The million-dollar question is “How can we effectively manage a team despite of these differences?”
Managing effectively is a MUST, there is no way around it. In order to do this, we must understand what influenced each one of these generations to become who they are today. We need to understand how each generation operates. Work organizations are sensitive to issues of diversity in race, culture and gender and have developed policies and programs to protect and to promote diversity. In my personal opinion into some extent, generational diversity has yet to be addressed in the boardroom.
My advise to other professionals out there, regardless of the industry or age, is to educate yourselves, be patient, understand we are all different and there is a reason for it. Most of the times, this reason has to do with cultural and historical impact we are exposed to while growing up, which is the most important time of our life when it comes to building our personalities.
Learn how to find a way to communicate and reach a win-win situation. Mainly, come to the realization that every generation can bring something valuable to the team and when you put all of these skills and strengths together, the results can be remarkable and impressive.
We can successfully handle this dilemma by building nontraditional workplaces, exhibiting flexibility, emphasizing respectful relationships and focusing on retaining talented employees.
Here are some areas to focus on in order to be successful when managing multigenerational teams:
Adaptability of tasks
Respect of competence and initiative
Tapping into diverse age groups to innovate
Understanding of work styles
Considering generational values
Sharing of perceptions
Finding generational appropriate fixes
Learning from each other
Lastly, remembering it is a two-way road!
MICHÈLE C. KLINE