People want different things — it’s no secret. Depending on their social and economic status, education level, or unique preference, every person has their own set of priorities. And it is these priorities that determine what they want out of a job.
But while we, as a society, may be aware that people need and want different things, the truth is that modern management strategies still haven’t figured out that there’s one considerable obstacle to leading a team to success: age.
Because 19% of the modern workforce is actively disengaged (Gallup’s technical term for being miserable at work), it’s easy to conclude that great leaders need to find new ways to bring workers together. And that’s not just for the sake of organizational success but also to achieve higher job satisfaction levels, which, in turn, drive company-wide results.
So, if you’re a small business owner or manager looking to do what’s best for their multigenerational team, here are the best strategies that will allow your team to thrive.
Understand What Drives Workplace Satisfaction for Your Team
As you work towards developing your leadership style that will encourage success, you have to find out one thing: what is it that makes your employees happy?
By taking the time to understand your team and analyzing employees’ feedback to identify any discrepancies in terms of priorities, you can adjust your leadership style, set team goals, and even encourage your workforce to discover new meaning in their day-to-day tasks to make everyone happier and more productive.
Obviously, the best way to understand your multigenerational team is to conduct a survey and ask about their top priorities at work. However, if you don’t have the time or resources to do that, you can still find plenty of resources on what people want to get from their jobs.
In July 2019, SurveyMonkey and CNBC conducted an online survey asking people what made them happy at the office. The results revealed that most workers’ job satisfaction was boosted by finding meaning in their work. But it’s worth knowing that monetary compensation, autonomy, development opportunities, and recognition also played significant roles in helping people feel satisfied with their work.
And a recent article from Flamingo collected data from multiple resources, identifying the five most desired employee benefits. According to the company’s research, these include health insurance, PTO, retirement plans, flexible work, and wellness programs, and the guide gives plenty of great advice on how to provide these benefits and what to expect in return.
Define Communication Preferences and Expectations
One of the greatest difficulties for multigenerational teams is that every age group has specific preferences regarding the proper way to communicate at work.
And, sure, it may not seem that significant whether you assign tasks via email, face-to-face, chats, or Slack. However, research shows that defining communication guidelines (and stating why they need to be followed) might be one of the most impactful things you can change to lead your team to success.
According to a survey conducted in 2017, individuals over the age of 55 have a strong preference for voice communication. Conversely, younger employees (aged 18-44) favor digital communication methods like text and email.
So, an older employee may find it oddly strange (or even disrespectful) that their manager prefers to send them an email regarding a relevant matter than a call. Yet, data shows that over 20% of people still think it’s inappropriate to call someone without texting them first.
The good news is, leading a multigenerational team does not have to mean communication struggles. In fact, the solution can be as simple as doing a couple of easy things.
First, ensure that your employees know what to expect from you regarding team communication. If you insist on managing projects through online tools so that all information is easily accessed by those working remotely, just say so. Your employees will understand.
Also Read: Why Does Workplace Communication Matter?
Secondly, find out people’s unique preferences. If you need to communicate with someone one-on-one, ask them how they prefer to do it. Then, be prepared to meet them halfway.
Yes, older employees can change their way of thinking and accept modern, informal, or faster communication methods they’re not entirely comfortable with. But, if you can do them the courtesy of having important conversations face-to-face, you’ll show that you’re a leader who cares about them and nurtures intimacy and trust, both of which are crucial for a team striving for success.
Identify Strengths and Encourage Stimulating Work
A recent survey from Gallup revealed that as many as 58% of job seekers think that the way to achieve job satisfaction is to be allowed to do what they do best.
So, as a leader of a multigenerational team, you need to understand that one of the most impactful things you can do to drive success is to identify your employee’s strengths and encourage them to do work they find stimulating.
The fact that your employees belong to different generations gives you the advantage of having multiple points of view on the same topics. Plus, working with a diverse group of people could also allow you the flexibility to find out what your workers love to do. You can offer them the opportunity to spend at least a portion of their workday on tasks that feel meaningful (or downright exciting).
For instance, if you check out a business like Eachnight, you’ll see how well multi-generational (and multi-disciplinary) teams can work together to solve consumer pain points.
Because it targets people of all ages, Eachnight understands that producing valuable content requires different approaches. And, thanks to the fact that its team includes a large number of people — from well-established and experienced surgeons to health and wellness coaches to young content creators — the brand is capable of creating unique resources. For example, the mattress quiz shown below is a piece of interactive content that none of the company’s competitors offer. And the way Eachnight acquired it is by simply allowing employees to do what they do best and what they find exciting.
Create Opportunities for Bonding and Collaboration
If the above example teaches us anything, it’s that success must be preceded by collaboration. So, if your goal is to successfully lead your multigenerational team, it might not be a bad idea to set aside a generous amount of time for team building.
Now, you can choose a host of team-building activities, depending on whether you want to help people bond, encourage creative thinking, or nurture their problem-solving skills. But the one thing you should remember is that, in general, people form stronger bonds when they have the opportunity to interact face-to-face.
With this in mind, it might not be a bad idea to insist on your entire team coming together at least once a year.
Yes, getting everyone in the same room might sound like it’s outside your budget. But there are always ways to work around financial constraints. So, if you’re thinking about organizing a team retreat to encourage employees to build closer relationships, make sure you do your best to plan something fun, and rest assured that the results will more than justify the cost.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Growth as a Leader
Finally, as you explore ways to help your multigenerational team to do better, don’t forget that your role as a leader is just as important as your employees’ role in achieving success.
With this in mind, you must work on your leadership skills as diligently as you work towards helping your employees achieve the desired results.
Explore resources that will open your eyes to new leadership techniques. Be prepared to gather and accept employee feedback (yes, even if it’s negative). And learn to acknowledge your mistakes and commit yourself to always trying to do better.
Is perfect leadership a destination you will ever reach? Most likely not. But rest assured that if your team sees how hard you are working on improving yourself, they will be just as inspired to invest in their own professional growth. Moreover, they’ll be more ready to widen their horizons, learn new skills, and collaborate with peers whose points of view they may not entirely understand (yet).
There you have it, some of the best tips for leading multigenerational teams to success.
As you can see, the best way to bring people together, regardless of age, doesn’t necessarily depend on technical tools or strategies. Instead, the most impactful thing you can do is practice open and honest communication and encourage everyone to keep an open mind.
As a leader of a multigenerational team, don’t be afraid to do things differently and disregard age-ist stereotypes. Work with your team to build strong relationships, encourage lifelong learning in your organization, and accept that our differences aren’t an obstacle but an opportunity to come together and do something great.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is a multigenerational workplace?
Ans. A multigenerational workplace includes employees from different generations such as baby boomers generation, Generation X, the millennial generational, and Generation Z.
Q2. What are some of the challenges in a multigenerational workplace?
Ans. Some of the challenges include:
- Communication issues
- Negative stereotypes
- Varying employee expectation
Q3. What are the significant benefits of a multigenerational workplace?
Ans. The benefits of a multigenerational workforce are:
- Learning/mentoring opportunities
- Knowledge transfer
- Problem-solving abilities
- Different perspectives
- Unique relationships
This article is written by Natasha Lane.
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She has been working for, and collaborating with, individual clients and companies of all sizes for more than a decade. Natasha specializes in writing about design, branding, digital marketing, and business growth. She is also addicted to art in all its forms and grilled tofu.