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Bridging the Gap: Expert Tips on Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

Effectively managing a diverse group of individuals is a challenging task under the best of circumstances. To make an already difficult job even harder, many workplaces today are comprised of members of up to four different generations, each with their own sets of values and beliefs. So how do you bridge the multi-generational gap and build a cohesive unit? Here is some insightful advice from industry experts to help answer that question.

Disregard Stereotypes and Generalizations

According to Karen Hinds of Workplace Success Group avoiding stereotypes is critical to the success of a multigenerational team. In her article for the Hartford Business Journal, Hinds advises “As the manager, set the tone of your team and steer clear of weak arguments that lump people into categories. There are lazy, entitled, overeager people in every generation just as there are thoughtful, driven, committed people ready to pay their dues.”

Give Everyone the Opportunity to Lead

On American Express’ Open Forum, Bob La Loggia, Founder and CEO of Appointment Plus, challenges managers to allow employees from all generations to demonstrate their leadership capabilities. “When planning project staffing, try to mix and match employees of all generations based on the unique skill sets they bring to the table. The more chances they have to broaden their horizons, the less the age differences will matter.”

Enable Your Team to Learn From One Another

Not everyone may admit it, but the different generations can actually learn a lot from each other, especially in the workplace. Mai-Po Wan of Sage People suggests that companies “Create a reciprocal mentoring program where younger employees can teach older ones how to use social media to drive business results, and older generations can provide mentoring regarding interpersonal skills and communication.

Generation Z are praised for their mastering of all things digital, but many lack the social skills needed to build relationships with business partners internally and externally. In addition, the more experienced employee can also share institutional knowledge with the younger worker.”

Tailor Your Feedback to Your Audience

One of the biggest challenges that many leaders face is successfully managing their team’s different personalities. As Deidre Paknad, CEO of Workboard, points out in an article on ITBusinessEdge; “One size doesn’t fit all — tune feedback to career stage, personality, skill levels, circumstances and age to make it most effective. While 70 percent of young employees’ learning happens on the job, they benefit most from strength-based feedback; tell them what they’re doing right as they experiment without experience.  Older employees tend to want more feedback than their younger counterparts and prefer more candid, constructive feedback on building skills and their growth opportunities. In either case, forget the “feedback sandwich” and don’t skimp on positive feedback.“

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