leadership | Article

Best Practices for Leading a Multigen Team

For the first time ever, there are five different generations in the workforce. This leaves many leaders navigating an uncharted territory of management.

What generations are in the workforce?
  • Silent Generation (1928-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Gen X (1965-1980)
  • Gen Y/Millennials (1981-1997)
  • Gen Z (1997-2012)
Why are multigenerational teams favorable?

Multigenerational teams make better decisions and get more positive results. The likelihood that a multigenerational team’s decision will meet or exceed expectations reaches 73 percent. For single generation teams, the number drops to 35 percent. Organizations can thrive when team members are spread across different generations.

Best Practices for Leading a Multigenerational Team

Tensions between generations can form for a variety of reasons. A few factors include technological evolution, changing leadership theories, developmental psychology, and childhood experiences. Despite differences, we can confront challenges with a few best practices.

1. Set core expectations

Not all policies should be strict and applied to every single employee. But it can be good to set a few expectations that are consistent across all generations. Let’s say one member of a team is a parent that works from home twice a week to be with their kids. Allow the rest of the team the same opportunity to have a flexible schedule. Once non-negotiable rules are set, tune into and adapt to different generational preferences as needed.

2, Facilitate conversations

If you sense tension forming over generational differences, don’t be afraid to openly address it. Some people shy away from generational conversations to avoid discussing age. Discuss the issue the same way you would discuss varying work styles or preferences. In these conversations, talk about generational differences. It can help employees understand each other and gain respect for other perspectives.

3. Discuss change

A common pain point in multigenerational workforces is how different generations view change. Each age group may feel threatened by change for various reasons. Listen to the concerns of each age group and take note of their fears. It’ll make it easier to successfully manage workplace transitions down the line. Walk team members through the benefits of a change and put their concerns at ease.

4. Avoid making assumptions

Many of us know of a few generational stereotypes. While some characteristics may be true about generations, not everyone is the same. We are leading individuals and should avoid assuming anything about them or the way they think. Instead of assuming we know employees based on their age, we should focus on getting to know each person for who they really are.

5. Recognize all employees

Another way to treat your team with equity and inclusivity is with recognition. Embrace a day-to-day recognition platform in addition to things like service awards and awards for top performers. The efforts of a Gen Z new hire deserve to be recognized as much as the loyalty of a Baby Boomer with 40 years of service. Look for daily moments worthy of recognition instead of focusing on only the big wins. In turn, you’ll also strengthen your team by keeping them connected and motivated.

At the end of the day, having a multi-generational workforce has a lot of benefits. (Even if there are some bumps along the way.) It is a great way to serve the needs of a diverse multigenerational customer base. Ensure your team is collaborative and connected so they can give their best to customers. To do so, lead your multi-generational team with frequent communication, open-mindedness, and daily recognition.