Friday, 20 December 2013

Managing Three Generations in the Workplace

As leaders, managers and colleagues we all face the challenge of three different generations in the workplace (all with different needs and values). The article "Winning the Generation Game" by the Economist addresses the widely different expectations of the different generations now found in the workplace. So who are these generations and what characteristics do they typically have:  

Baby Boomers
Gen X
Gen Y

-Moon Landing
-Women out to work - latch key kids

-Gulf War & 9/11
-Work together/teamworking
-Value job security
-Communicate through meetings and emails
-Technically Savvy
-Value work-life balance

-Digital Natives
-Highly connected 1000+ connections
-Communicate quickly via texting & instant messaging
-Used to hierarchical, top down, leadership
-Starting to retire
-Smaller population
-“Dead Man’s Shoes” lack of progression due to Baby Boomers
-19 year retirement period
-Why can’t we do things differently
-Go round the rules

-Keeping them engaged
-Value team working
-Resistant to change

-Fall behind or move ahead?
-Rounding off the edges more quickly
-Multi-tasks e.g. phone, 1-1, gadgets
-Seek fast progression
-Expect coaching & instant feedback
-Fun in the workplace
-See everyone as a friend
 So what does this mean for the 2020 workplace? It is anticipated that by 2020 48% of employees in the UK workplace will be "millenials". This will require a significant shift in leadership styles and approach. The out-dated form of top down leadership will no longer be effective for this mix of generations. Research has identified that the most important factor for this multi-generational mix, in terms of motivation and retention, is the working relationship they have with their line manager.
Our earlier posts of "Authentic Leadership" and "What Type of Leader Do You Want to be?" highlight the shift in leadership approach that has already started.  

Are you a leader or manager? Our future blog posts will explore how best to manage this mix of 3 generations in the workplace. In the meantime you might want to try the 14 point Quiz from the Pew Research Centre "How Millenial Are you?"