In the past, managers were generally older than the people they managed. In recent years, we have seen this is no longer the case. Research clearly shows that this presents some unique challenges and that these managers need help managing multi-generational workforces to avoid conflict and a decrease in staff morale.
Becoming a billionaire and respected CEO is no longer a job for the older, more experienced person. Think about Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Andrew Mason of Groupon, Pete Cashmore of Mashable. These men all founded their companies and became billionaires before they even reached their 30th birthdays.
Now four generations are attempting to co-exist in the workplace. All people possess different work and thinking styles, as well as different levels of technology knowledge. Profiles International, a leading global talent solutions firm, undertook research in an attempt to uncover the most common sources of conflict between these generations of employees and best practices for dealing with them. Two particular questions posed stuck out in their research.
Q1. In your organization, do managers receive training to understand employees of different generations in order to effectively keep them engaged?
A shockingly small 30% of managers receive training to effectively deal with these situations. Its crucial to understand what motivates your employees, all ages and backgrounds are motivated by different factors. Managing a multi-generational workforce may not be easy, but these organizational structures are inevitable.
Q2. In your organization, do managers or leaders ask people about their needs and preferences?
One third of managers fail to ask employees about their needs and preferences.
In order for an employee to work with a driven and motivated attitude, they must feel that their needs are taken care of, that they are benefitting in some way. If managers do not understand what drives productivity, how can they expect productive employees?
Research results also show a lack of acknowledgement by managers regarding the fact that these generational gaps exist. It is impossible to understand and meet the needs of each and every employee, but most if not all employees want to be heard and know that their opinions matters.
This is where WIIFM or "What's In It For Me" comes into play. Employees need to know that "something is in it for them" when they are doing their job. If you ensure your employees understand what the benefits are for them, they are likely to be more engaged in what they are doing.
Here are some simple tips for to make sure you convey the WIIFM factors to employees
- Communicate - Talk to your employees. Find out what drives them, if they have any issues or conflicts in their workplace. Some people may be shy to bring attention to a particular issue, so make sure you have a confidential comment box/email for people to use.
- Include - Every company has overall goals. Every employee has goals, personal and professional. Once you have communicated with an employee, convey to them what the company goal is, and how they fit in with that. Whether its the possibility of a promotion or just telling the employee, "You're a great member of this team, or "We couldnt have done it without you."
- Be genuine - Do not give false praise, these people are adults and treat them so. When they do a good job, tell them. They need to feel comfortable to come to you with work related issues if you want them to confide in you about what motivates them.
- Be fair - You may have employees that you have something in common with, whether it be; a particular school you both attended, a hobbie or even living in the same neighborhood. Do not favor people based on these things. Do not favor people in the same generation as yourself.
Employees are the backbone of your company. if you want them to work well together, get to know them! Be observant of generational gaps in your organization and make a plan to understand how they work individually and as a team. With these factors taken into consideration, you are lining yourself up for success!
*Based on Profiles International research, insight from Dr. Peter Capelli and Jan Vincent's Generational Differences in Your Workforce.