Do you feel frustrated when your leadership method doesn’t work for the whole team? Your team members certainly will. How do you solve this problem?
For the majority of businesses, these days the teams we lead are diverse in age, gender and values. This is the ‘new normal’ for most industries; the way you handle your team should incorporate the ‘modern workforce’ mindset.
To get to what motivates your team members, you first need to understand them. Interpreting through effective communication is key to being a great leader of a team and achieving success. Let’s examine today the potential pitfalls of not understanding your team’s generational cultures.
For the first time in history, four generations are in the workplace at the same time. To achieve communication, you must bridge the gap. And make no mistake, the gap may be huge.
Generational differences are a crucial element in the diversity of your team and these can present both challenges and opportunities for employers.
Research gives us these characteristics of each generation for you to integrate into your communication and behavior as their leader:
Born between 1995 and 2012
Generation Z is often described as the most distinctly different from any other in history:
- They are digital natives who have never known a world without the internet, social media and smartphones.
- They place a greater emphasis on achieving work/life balance.
- They are more likely to prioritize family and friends over work commitments and are less likely to see their careers as defining who they are as people.
- They are Entrepreneurial.
- Therefore they will be looking to work in organizations that actively encourage creativity and innovation, or will look outward to launch their own.
- They are the most research driven generation. When given a task or project, they will take the time to research all aspects before coming up with a solution and/or final product. They are most likely online researching, whether in a retail store or a work environment.
Millennials or Gen Y
Born between 1981- 1996
Millennials are seen as going that extra mile, sacrificing personal time for professional success. They often view their careers as an extension of their identities.
Millennials view their relationship with technology differently:
- Technology can help them achieve their goals but they don’t see it as necessarily essential to how they operate on a day-to-day basis.
- They may in fact prefer face-to-face communication and/or paper-based formats for certain tasks.
- They generally search for meaning in their work, rather than a means to an end.
Born between 1965-1985
Gen X’ers prefer balance in every sense of the word. When it comes to work, they’re not interested in putting in 10-hour days. While they’re hard workers and enjoy work, they truly believe in work/life balance. They work to live, not live to work.
This generation adapts well to change, communicate well with other Gens, are eager to learn, are very determined, and excellent multitaskers.
You will best engage Gen-X members of your team by following these guidelines:
- Spend one-to-one time with each of them to develop relationships and gain trust.
- Be flexible with work schedules to accommodate the need for work-life balance.
- Given the task, they are usually problem solvers and will get a job done.
Baby Boomer Generation
Born between 1946-1964
Although this generation has been in the workplace the longest, and communication with them may already be part of your skill set, it never hurts to re-examine your leadership behaviors with their priorities in mind.
- Hard working and goal oriented.
- Not afraid of a challenge – they see themselves as having “seen it all and solved it”
- Work well independently more than collaboratively
Working long hours is something they are accustomed to, believing that hard work and strong “work ethic” equates to success.
And coming soon – get ready for
Generation Alpha (the latest to the line up of generations)
Born since 2010 and up until 2025)
Generation Alpha are the children of millennials. Researchers are already closely watching this next generation to see how they will require yet more change in the workplace and beyond.
So what does all this mean for your leadership strategy and how to understand what each of your colleagues need?
Step one is to adopt maximum flexibility in your approach to each individual, bringing them onboard with a common goal through effective communication, and appealing to “what makes them tick.” Bridging the gap will get you a winning formula.
Have you faced this challenge in your own business? If so, we would love to know how you overcame it, and what your results were. Email me at email@example.com . We look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in success,
Managing Partner & Business Strategy Expert
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