Management would be easier if each of your employees possessed the same attitude and can-do spirit toward hard work and collaboration. But that’s simply not always in the cards, especially if you’re a woman at the top trying to make it all work.
To make it all a bit more taxing, managing employees who represent differing generations that make up today’s workforce — from Baby Boomers to Millennials — means catering to unique work styles, motivations and personalities.
So what’s the recipe for making it all work to create a thriving and successful atmosphere? Here are some tips to better handle the generation gap in your business.
Don’t Institute a One-Size-Fits-All Approach
When you’re confronted with leading a diverse group of people, it can be tempting to go with whatever has worked for you in the past. If you’re generally a hands-off manager, you might want to apply that principle to each of your current employees. Big on receiving weekly reports from your team? Perhaps that should be a requirement for all employees.
But before choosing and sticking to any single leadership style — or instituting a one-size-fits-all approach for your personnel — consider the unique skills, talents and traits each generation brings to the workplace. If Baby Boomers make up a large chunk of your workforce, it might be easy for you to intimate how this generation prefers challenges, following policies and rules, and earning incentives in the form of status or raises.
Millennials, on the other hand, tend to prefer a more hands-off managerial approach and enjoy a more laid back attitude to work. While this generation likes to dress casually and show up a few minutes late with a latte in their hands, they, too, see the benefit of hard work and sometimes enjoy burning the midnight oil. In fact, millennials — some of us, anyway — occasionally spend time working in the middle of the night when inspiration strikes.
So which generation is best suited for a particular company? Truthfully, each generation represented in today’s workforce offers a unique set of skills and traits that can be beneficial in achieving organizational success. The key is to individualize your management style, without singling out any one person or group. For example, you could offer an optional sales challenge to your entire organization, with the winner receiving a monetary prize. This way, Baby Boomers — and whomever else thrives on competition — can participate and be rewarded, while those who prefer to work more independently don’t feel pressured to take part in a formal competition.
Still, another (simple) idea could involve speaking with each of your employees about under which conditions and direction they work best. If a Baby Boomer prefers more autonomy, with a monthly meeting scheduled to check in on progress and set goals, make that your ritual. Likewise, if a Millennial would rather collaborate with you weekly, set weekly strategy meetings with them. You don’t have to manage everyone the same; in fact, it’s best if you develop a more diverse leadership style.
Find the Right Tech
Depending on the makeup of your workforce, the rollout of new technology can be a tricky animal. If you make complex software systems an integral part of your office, you could alienate some of the more senior members of your organization. But if you keep processes too old-school, you’ll miss out on rich benefits and potentially lose a younger generation of workers to another company altogether. When possible, provide thorough training to all employees so they feel comfortable with any everyday technology tools they must use.
Furthermore, you can use specific technology systems to reach disparate generations. Certain workforce management software solutions, including those sold by Aspect, offer mobility and flexible scheduling that appeal to Millennials, with enough autonomy and control to appeal to Baby Boomers. Take your time to find the right system so you can be sure you’re connecting with a variety of age groups.
Emphasize Peer-to-Peer Connections
Finally, think more about building peer-to-peer relationships, rather than emphasizing a top-down hierarchy. Don’t make it about age; rather, look to pair employees based on their roles and shared outside interests. Team up women with other women and men with other men, and take steps to develop a rewarding mentorship program that benefits everyone.
As a woman in a leading role — especially one who oversees employees representing multiple generations — you’re bound to experience a certain set of challenges. But if you focus on championing each employee as an individual, choose the right technology and establish a winning atmosphere, you’re bound to create a successful culture and bottom line for the foreseeable future.