There is rarely a time that generational challenges don’t emerge in my leadership workshops or coaching sessions. The comments and concerns range from:
“Why can’t they have the same work ethic as we do?”
“Why are they so fixated on their phones and technology?”
“Why can’t they be more open to new ideas and different strategies?”
“Why can’t they see the value in a flexible workplace?”
“Why is work/life balance so scary to them?”
I am sure you have heard these same perspectives in your organization and may be wondering why we all can’t come together. Some even believe that if we just focus on the individuals that the generational differences will dissolve.
Which is it? Do we really have generational divides or are we just making too much of this issue? My answer to that is: A little of both.
Six ways to lead on a multi-generational team:
1. EMBRACE DIFFERENT GENERATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
While it is never a good idea to create or perpetuate stereotyping, it is helpful to consider the different generational work ethics and behaviors. Whether we want to accept it or not, technology has changed the way we go about working and that has allowed more flexibility in our organizations. Whether we used technology later in our careers or it has been part of our entire life, it has impacted the speed of work and how we go about tackling our projects. Yet technology cannot provide institutional wisdom and knowledge that can propel younger generations forward with clients and office politics.
2. CREATE A VISION TOGETHER
It’s all about the partnership and dreaming together in formation- knowing exactly where you are going. When working on a multi-generational team, make sure there is a clear vision and it is shared system wide.
- Include all generations in building that vision
- Ask for input
- Listen for possibilities never considered
- Write it out clearly and put it front and center
3. USE VALUES TO GUIDE DECISION-MAKING
Just as a vision steers the way, values help us make clearer and consistent decisions. Core values help the different generations come together for a common language and spirit. One way to make better decisions in times of ambiguity is to look at your values and test out each decision or action against them.
4. GROW EACH OTHER’S GIFTS
Each generation may have varying strengths and talents but in order for a team to be high performing, it is critical to leverage those gifts. Studies show that developing an individual’s strengths is way more impactful than spending too much time on their weaknesses. Once we recognize one another’s expertise, then learn from each other. Reverse mentoring is an extraordinary way to grow our leadership.
5. TRY OUT NEW PATTERNS FROM ALL GENERATIONS
As with any new skill or knowledge obtained, practice using it.
- Set up mentoring relationships that go across generations where each is a mentor and each is a mentee
- When you see a new behavior being used in the workplace give that person a “way to go”
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be afraid not to try
- Ask for honest and respectful feedback
6. SEE INDIVIDUAL WORTH
Generations are made up of individual people who are all unique and special. Never pigeon hole anyone but instead delve deeper to see their value and help them cultivate stronger leadership strategies.
How do you lead on a multi-generational team?