Extract: Clash Of The Generations
How to manage the generation gap at the workplace
Managing employees is a taxing endeavour, irrespective of whether you are a newbie or a veteran manager. Getting work done from others can be far more challenging than doing it yourself. Finding ways to motivate and engage employees (and actually accomplish the work for which their managers are ultimately responsible) is critical, says management expert Valerie M. Grubb.
In her new book, she shares some of the strategies that managers and senior leaders can use to best utilize the skills of youth and the wisdom of age, giving organizations a competitive edge.
Her Clash Of The Generations: Managing The New Workplace Reality focuses on the importance of an age-diverse workforce. In the chapter “Being An Inclusive Manager”, she talks about why age-related biases should be kept out of the workplace. Edited excerpts:
Today, many of the start-ups and younger companies that are actively recruiting don’t even look at résumés of older candidates, thinking they won’t fit into the corporate culture or are too stuck in their ways to bring any new ideas to the table. Not only is this an inaccurate assumption, but these companies are only hurting themselves by preventing the workplace from being more diverse and staffed with seasoned professionals. Fear of change and fear of ideas and people who are different in the workplace are counterproductive. Just because a company is new or uses a new technology doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from the wisdom of industry veterans.
And there are a number of older entrepreneurial minds out there. A 2014 Business Insider article reported that one in three new US businesses was started by someone over 50.
Managing workers older than you
■Seek their input. Use their experience as a sounding board. You’re still the one who has to make the decision, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t get their input.
■Respect their working style. Millennials typically take a team approach to problem solving by bantering around ideas. That probably won’t be the preferred style for your Gen Xer or Boomer subordinates. Respect their right to go off and brainstorm on their own before getting your approval to move forward.
■ Be understanding. Look, it’s tough to work for someone younger than you. Try to see the situation from your employees’ perspective and give them time to adjust.
■Communicate often and well. Good leadership at every level requires managers to be good communicators.
■Create mentoring situations. Young can learn from old, old can learn from young. Make employees teaching their co-workers skills a natural part of coming to work so no one feels weird when being mentored or mentoring someone from a different generation.
■Treat all of your employees as individuals—but also treat them equally. Each of your employees will learn at a different pace, know different things, and have his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Differences are good, and understanding them can help you manage each employee to his or her best.
However, don’t show favouritism to employees of a certain age (such as those of your own generation). Treat everyone with the same respect in order to garner respect in return.
■ Be the boss, but don’t be bossy.