The US workforce is currently at a unique crossroads. The "Baby Boomers" (those born between 1946 and 1964) are beginning to retire; Generation X (born b/w 1965 and 1976) is starting to come up the ranks and fill those open leadership positions; and those from Generation Y, a.k.a. "The Millennials", (born 1977-1998) are either firmly entrenched in the workforce or still in school thinking about how old all the people in the workforce are!
Do you have a business that has a multi-generational workforce and are sometimes just outright puzzled at how to deal with the leadership development issues that come with such a workforce mix?
Young professionals want to be led in a very different way than their elders. If you want to succeed in a Generation Y world, focus on how they want to be led
; don't get caught in a generational gap.
In my current place of business, I see and deal with the generational gaps firsthand. Too often the Baby Boomers think the Gen X crowd is lazy and the Gen X crowd thinks the Gen Y folks are entitled "kids."
We have one middle manager that is in his late 40's (Baby Boomer) who often walks around the office floor at 6 p.m. to take inventory of who's still working. What he generally finds is a decent portion of the Gen X crowd still working diligently, while the Gen Y crowd has gone for the night. Does this scenario sound familiar to you, whether it is in your corporate workplace or your own business?
This middle manager is portraying the typical leadership style of a Baby Boomer; who feels that people have to put in long hours and 'pay their dues' to move up the corporate ladder.
However, those of us in the Gen X and Gen Y buckets tend to try and have more of a 'work/life balance.' The boomers often see this as laziness and entitlement, thus the leadership gap when it comes to the current multi-generational workforce we're dealing with.
Great leadership means understanding your peoples' 'needs and wants.' Let's briefly discuss how the generations differ, so you can develop your leadership skills and learn how to approach each generation, no matter which one you're in.
Keep in mind, that these are generalizations about large groups of people, so not everyone is going to fit into their respective 'bucket' perfectly.
- As I mentioned above, 'Boomers' traditionally believe in the 'paying of dues' approach. Keep chugging along, remain loyal to your company, listen to your elders, put in your hours and eventually you'll be rewarded with your promotions and payday. If you hate your job, that's just part of paying your dues and a normal fact of life. They treasure hard work over everything and feel that you have to "do what you gotta do."
and Generation Y
, on the other hand, often have a completely different way of working and different leadership styles than their Boomer counterparts. The new generational workforce is social and cares more about the pursuit of an interesting, fulfilling, less stressful career than the Boomers. They want flexible hours, continuous training and development, more vacation time, and expect to leverage technology to work more effectively, rather than grind out those long hours just to put in the 'face time' at the office.
A Global CEO survey performed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers
showed the Millennials would rather have career development than a bonus by a margin of 3 to 1.
Also, given another opportunity, these Millennials would leave organizations that don't want to help them develop their careers. They don't care so much about the money, they prefer great leadership and executives and colleagues who will teach them the leadership skills necessary to succeed in their preferred fields.
Are you finding that these statements are hitting home based on your current workforce? Can you understand how these generational gaps can cause big issues in the workplace if they are not addressed? One group thinks the other is lazy and not loyal, while the other thinks they are overworked and inefficient.
So, what can you do to ensure the new leadership group will both, mesh with the current aging workforce and want to stay with your company for the long haul?
Here are a few tips:
1. Offer training programs; especially those that develop leadership skills, time management, new technologies in your respective workplace, and how to manage work and family. Gen X and Y love training and learning, and are very focused on work/life balance. This will allow you to entice the younger workforce into staying and also will give the Boomers some perspective on what the younger generation wants.
2. Increase benefits, such as vacation time and company offsites. The new generation 'works to live,' they don't 'live to work.' As such, they have lives outside of work, love to vacation, and generally feel that life is too short to work all the time. Allow an extra week of vacation if you can afford to do so; give them the option of telecommuting periodically throughout the month, and allow them flexible work hours as long as their work is getting done effectively and efficiently.
3. Give the Gen X & Gen Y crowd some autonomy. Leadership that isn't always hovering over your shoulder will go along way with the new generations. Also, they don't want leadership that thinks they run the show, just because they have a higher title. Gen X and Gen Y are very much into the Earned vs. Granted Leadership
There is no doubt in my mind that the newer generations have goals and priorities that seem worlds apart from those that are leaders in current society, but if you want to bridge the generational gap, you are going to have to learn the leadership skills that will allow you to do so effectively.
I have been successfully managing staff and employees of both the Gen X and Gen Y generations for over a decade now. I'd love to help you understand more about their drives and how to work with and motivate those groups going forward.
If you want to learn how to hire and keep the best and the brightest and how to develop the leadership skills to deal with such generational gaps, ping me for a free Strategy Session
and we can discuss your situation and how we can help.
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