Leading Intergenerational Teams
Workspace demographics now span four generations. A twenty-something hired this year can expect to find that they working with colleagues who are older than they are by fifty or more years. The reason for this is primarily due to labor shortages for trained personnel in many industries. In addition, many older workers are now delaying retirement due for economic or other reasons. Many of the baby boomer generation can now be expected to delay retirement into their seventies. (Randstad USA)
As you will learn, an inter-generational workforce provides many opportunities and challenges. While generational differences can and do lead to frustration, ...view middle of the document...
Members of this group exhibit confidence, optimism, civic responsibility, street smarts, inclusivity, collaboration and open mindedness. They tend to be goal oriented.
(Gesell, Jan 2010)
Similarities across the Generations
It is important to note that, although there are significant differences between the generations, there are also important commonalities. A successful manager will work to create a work environment that leverages these similarities to maximize their success.
According to Randstad USA, a job placement and research agency, the similarities among the generations include the following:
* People of all ages view work as a vehicle for personal fulfillment and satisfaction, not just for a paycheck; yet they want compensation that’s in line with the current marketplace.
* The highest indicator of satisfaction is to feel valued on the job.
* More than 70% of all employees want a supportive work environment where they are recognized and appreciated.
Workplace culture is important to the job satisfaction of all employees.
* Career development is a high priority. But while three-quarters of employers also rated it highly, only half of employees give their organizations good marks in this area.
* Flexibility is important. More than seven out of ten workers would like to be able to set their own hours, as long as the work gets done.
Current Labor Force Demographics
In the past five years alone, there has been a significant shift in the age groups of persons in the workforce. The chart below illustrates the changes in the distribution of ages in the workforce as of 2006 and 2011. The three generations born after 1946 now comprise a greater of the workforce, and thus the likelihood of inter-generational job interactions has increased.
This table was prepared using age-segmented labor force projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Challenges for Managers
The generations have different perspectives on issues like work ethic, leadership, and authority. These differences must be managed well. Leaders will do well to assess their knowledge of the generations, leadership style, and personal attitudes toward the different generations in order to assess their capability to lead an inter-generational workforce.
Six Principles for Managing Generations Successfully
In the book Connecting Generations, Claire Raines provides the following helpful insights on managing generations.
1. Keep the conversation going. Encourage discussion about generational differences with your team. Individuals often make judgments about each other without realizing those judgments are generational in nature. Getting the issues into the open make them become less personalized and more generalized.
2. Determine what they need and want. Many people assume that all people share the same desires and therefore often project their preferences onto others. The only ways to know...