Leading a Multigenerational Workforce

What does it take to lead a multigenerational workforce? This is a question that is asked by many millennials who are in a leadership position. The modern-day work force is comprised of four generations: Traditionalist, Baby boomer, Generation X, and Millennials. As a young leader, effectively managing a diverse workforce can appear to be a daunting task, however the keys to being a successful leader are authenticity, communication, and trust.

If you are new to your role as a supervisor/ manager it may be tempting to try to adopt the leadership role of someone you highly respect. I would caution you to take the time to learn who you are as a leader, and then adopt a leadership style that best suits your strengths. For instance, if you highly value teamwork then you would not try to adopt an autocratic style of leadership. Instead, you may be more comfortable adhering to the principles of participative leadership. This step is extremely important because your team will be more responsive and motivated to perform their best for a leader that they believe in. More importantly, you will benefit from gaining a self-awareness of what you value and what you bring to the team as well.

The second key of effectively leading a multigenerational team is communication. Each generation has a communication style that is uniquely shaped by the societal norms of their era. Generally, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers are motivated by sense of duty and loyalty (Matthews, 2015). As a result, they may best respond to more formal styles of communication, such as face-to-face meetings and telephone calls. However, Generation X and Millennials often cite the need to make a difference and be transformational as their motivation in the workplace (Collier, n.d.). Therefore, a general rule of thumb when communicating with employees from this generation is to explicitly state the expected outcomes and provide a lot of feedback.

Cultivating an environment where transparency exists and differences are celebrated will create trust. It is important to remember that as a supervisor you will make mistakes and have setbacks. How you handle your setbacks will set the tone for how your team moves forward. Therefore, remaining open and honest, even when it may be uncomfortable to do so, is critical in order to create and maintain trust. Employees from each generation appreciate a supervisor who is brave enough to remain honest with their employees. Moreover, taking the time to receive and listen to their feedback and suggestions is also valued by all employees across the generations.

The most important thing to remember is that dynamic teams form when everyone feels valued!

Ocesa Keaton

Recommended Resources:
Dale Carnegies. "How to win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age".
Ken Blanchard. "The One Minute Manager".

Works Cited

Collier, E. (n.d.). Workplace warfare: Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.careerfaqs.com.au/news/news-and-views/workplace-warfare-baby-boomers-gen-x-and-gen-y/

Matthews, D. (2015). Management for All Ages: How to Better Lead Your Multigenerational Team. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.business.com/management/management-for-all-ages-how-to-better-lead-your-multigenerational-team/

Back to Articles