Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce

I have been reading this book by author Haydn Shaw called Sticking Points. This book is a guide to understanding all the generations in the workplace and how to get them all working together under one roof without conflict. Not that I think you can have any group of people working under one roof without conflict, but as my pastor often says – that’s a message for another day. Here is what I have learned so far.
 

There are potentially 5 generations in the workplace right now:

  1. Traditionalists – born during the depression
     
  2. Baby Boomers – born after World War 2 in a wave of child bearing after the soldiers returned from war
     
  3. Generation X – born from 1962 to the early 80’s
     
  4. Millennials – born from the 1980’s until 2000
     
  5. UNNAMED – born from 2000 to present – (16 years old and younger)

 


THE 12 STICKING POINTS OF CONFLICT

There are 12 sticking points that come up most often in conflict between the generations in the workplace. All generations are facing these problems, but each view the following issues with their own unique perspective.

The 12 “sticking points” are:

  1. Communication – What is the best way to interact with my co-workers?
  2. Decision making – How do we decide what to do?
  3. Dress code – How casually may I dress?
  4. Feedback – How often and in what ways do I want input?
  5. Fun at work – How much fun is allowed at work?
  6. Knowledge transfer – How do we pass on critical knowledge to new employees?
  7. Loyalty – When is it okay to move on?
  8. Meetings – What should happen during our meetings?
  9. Policies – Are policies rules or guidelines?
  10. Respect – How do I get others to respect me?
  11. Training – How do I best learn?
  12. Work ethic – How many hours are required and when must I work them?

 

5 STEPS FOR LEADING THROUGH GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES

So how does one manage these 12 “sticking points”? Below are 5 steps for leading through generational differences:

  1. Acknowledge – Discuss generational differences.
     
  2. Appreciate – Focus on the “why”, not the “what”, and common needs.
     
  3. Flex – Agree on how to accommodate different approaches.
     
  4. Leverage – Maximize the strengths of each generation.
     
  5. Resolve – Determine which option will yield the best results when flexing is not enough.

 

While I am not yet finished with the book, I have learned so much about our culture and the interactions that take place between the generations. We all have a unique perspective. For instance, none of the Millennials remember life without computers or cell phones. None of the newest UNNAMED generation remembers 9/11. Generation X’ers have always had highways to travel on, etc.

Our perspective gained in our lives is unique to us, but there are amazing similarities between those in common generations. The conflicts between perspectives of differing generations can become winning solutions if the best of all generations is discovered and embraced. 

What are you doing to understand the generations you work with in your workplace?

Change is inevitable. Find common ground and grow with them to the success of your company.

About the Author, Jim Brangenberg

Jim's Mission: To transform Christian-run businesses through mentoring Christian Business Owners (CBOs) by incorporating the servant leadership of Jesus Christ in their businesses, their home life and their walk with Christ.

Jim Brangenberg