Are you a manager who’s tired of being inundated with tactics on how you can better manage millennials? Are you a millennial who twinges at the utterance of the word “millennial” and all the stereotypes that come with it? You’re not alone. From the 20-something who wants better work-life balance to the 60-something who wants more benefit options, you are contributing to a multigenerational workforce that has unique challenges and opportunities.
The opportunities generational diversity offers are often glazed over due to frustration, miscommunication and overall variances among colleagues. With four generations working together (traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X and millennials) and Generation Z on its way in the door, this crowded workplace presents a distinct set of values, expectations and approaches toward life and work. It’s up to both formal leaders and individual contributors to understand these differences and use appropriate strategies to leverage a team of individuals who have diverse experiences and perspectives.
Regardless of your title and the generation you associate with, you can be an advocate for generational diversity in your company, professional associations and anywhere people come together to get things done. Let’s stop fighting the distinctions among us and recognize the individual value that each of us brings to the table. Only then can we capitalize on the uniqueness that makes work fun, productive and effective.
Here are five strategies for cultivating a positive multigenerational workforce.
1. Communicate to ensure alignment.
Whether the goal is for you, your department or the organization, communicate about it constantly with your team and leader to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Allow room for individual perspectives and input on how the goal will be achieved. As long as everyone is working toward the same outcome, it’s OK if individuals use different strategies to attain it.
2. Design a flexible work environment.
Wanting flexible schedules, more paid time off, remote work or a buffet-style benefits package is not exclusive to millennials; everyone wants more options in their work these days. Consider what nontraditional approaches are viable in your organization, and offer options to meet the needs of all employees. If you aren’t in a position to make these decisions, think about what you can suggest to your leaders, and articulate the benefits it could bring to your work or team.
3. Create a constant feedback loop.
Annual performance evaluations may still be required for your company, but they should not be used as the sole form of feedback. As a leader, providing ongoing feedback throughout the year through regular one-on-ones, huddles and in-the-moment coaching improves performance and increases engagement among employees. If your leader doesn’t provide this type of feedback, ask for it in the way that works best for both parties.
4. Cultivate leadership opportunities for all.
Most leadership positions, especially in large and tenured organizations, are held by people from more mature generations. You could be missing a huge opportunity by not providing leadership development opportunities for younger generations through training programs or mentoring. Harness their leadership potential now so they are ready for advancement when the time comes. If you are a millennial who wants to develop, and you know your priorities, ask for a mentor in the area in which you wish to grow.
5. Leverage social media.
Social media is not solely used by millennials. It’s a tool that people in all generations use to learn, buy and communicate. Social media plays a large role in your company’s story, and people are attracted to your organization by the narrative you share. Use social media to your advantage both internally and externally to demonstrate why your workplace is exceptional.
Capitalizing on the unique qualities that each person contributes to his or her workplace will catapult organizations into a new level of performance, problem solving and goal achievement. Which strategy will you begin using today for a better workplace tomorrow?
Want to learn more? Come to the Training Industry Conference and Expo in June and attend Alycia’s session, “There’s No ‘Selfie’ in ‘Ussie:’ Managing Millennials Today for Stronger Organizations Tomorrow.”