In the specialty chemicals industry, it is common for organizations to employ professionals from multiple generations. Some leaders may have to manage as many as five different generations. This generational diversity means you have a broader range of skills, experiences, and knowledge, but it also comes with challenges. You need to be able to empathize with employees who don’t come from the same generation as you. Here are some tips to help you effectively manage multiple generations.
The first step is to disregard stereotypes and encourage your employees to do the same. Often, people from different generations struggle to relate to each other because they have biased ideas about how other generations behave. For example, millennials may assume baby boomers know nothing about technology, and baby boomers might assume millennials are lazy. It is important for your team to understand that stereotypes don’t accurately characterize any generations, so they shouldn’t make assumptions about colleagues without getting to know them first.
Take a Collaborative Approach to Leadership
As the manager, you are the one in charge. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a more democratic approach to leadership. While older generations are often more used to hierarchical work relations, many younger generations are used to working in environments that emphasize engagement and conversation. Taking a collaborative approach to leadership will make younger generations feel more comfortable while encouraging multi-generational teams to work together.
Experiment with Mentorship Programs
When most people think about mentorship, they think about experienced professionals mentoring younger professionals and sharing their knowledge. Play around with the idea of mentorship. Have younger employees mentor more experienced professionals, and vice versa. All of your employees can learn from one another, regardless of age. Mentorship programs like this encourage your team to interact with each other and understand that each generation has strengths that contribute positively to the organization.
Talk Openly with Employees
If you manage people who are both older and younger than you, it is a great idea to open a dialogue with your team. Ask them what they want out of their work environment and career development. You need to understand what all your employees want to accomplish with their professional lives if you expect to keep them motivated. The easiest way to do this is to ask them.
It can be challenging to manage multiple generations. You have to make each employee excited to work alongside people with different backgrounds, keep employees engaged and motivated, and encourage teamwork. As a leader, once you embrace the idea that generational differences are strengths, it will become easier for your employees to see the advantages of working with people from different generations.
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