Strategies for Leading in the Multi-Generational Workplace

21st century leaders are facing unique challenges. There are currently four generations in the workplace and the fifth generation is coming soon: leaders are looking for innovative ways to manage this generational mix of Traditionalists, Boomers, GenX, Millennials, and Gen2020. The pressure is mounting since productivity and business results are dependent on the type of work environments leaders create. Managing effectively is critical for the bottom line.

The status quo of managing is no longer an option, so leaders need new skills to deal with the complexity before them. Some of the challenges include:

  • Accommodating different needs, priorities and goals
  • Recognizing different experiences and attitudes
  • Keeping up with the furious pace of technology that requires continuous learning

To achieve success leaders will have to adopt a strategy of flexibility that includes increased engagement and being more responsive to their workplace and workforce. This means learning new ways of managing themselves and others, which can be one of their biggest challenges. Many managers have risen to their current roles because they displayed strong technical skills, but those skills have not prepared them to manage others, especially in the current and future workplace.

In February 2018, Jeff Cates, President of Intuit wrote in the Globe and Mail that leaders must develop flexibility in managing, and rather than dwelling on the differences that exist in the workplace, they need to be open to the possibilities that differences can bring about such as cultivating “a more well-rounded team with diverse perspectives.”

Flexibility can be achieved through adopting a management style called the coach approach. This approach includes creating safe spaces for the exchange of ideas and learning, as well as adopting respectful behaviours through listening and questioning. These strategies address many of the inter-generational challenges that come up.

So what does all this mean for leaders managing the 5G workplace?

It means change. Adopting a flexible strategy through a coach approach can seem counterintuitive when the demand for results is driving behaviours. The time required to learn new skills and practice them becomes one more demand, adding to the pressure that already exists.

But the results speak for themselves: if there are no changes to current management behaviours, there will be no changes in workplace behaviours. If what leaders are dealing with in the workplace is what they want, no adjustments are needed. However, if new ways of managing are required, consider what a flexible strategy and a coach approach can mean. Lilian But, a Consumer and Market Intelligence Analyst, reports that a flexibility strategy can result in:

  1. Higher employee satisfaction due to increased worker autonomy
  2. Better talent due to the flexibility about where and when employees work
  3. Lower turnover
  4. Reduced stress and uncertainty in the workplace due to higher levels of trust

Sounds like this strategy could be the answer to managing in a workplace where complexity is the new normal, not just for today but into the future.

 

 

References:

The secret to a satisfied multigenerational workforce? It’s not as hard as you think by Jeff Cates, February 7, 2018  Retrieved here.

Workplace Flexibility: Is It Really Beneficial and Effective for the Millennial Generation? By Lilian But Retrieved here.

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April 2, 2018

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