In the modern workplace, managers have a difficult challenge in front of them. They need to take whatever team of employees they’re given and maximize its potential, reaching the highest possible levels of employee retention and productivity. This is difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is you’re working with a diverse group of people – including a range of generations.
Perhaps the most challenging source of diversity in the modern workplace, is the wide generational gap that exists among many employees. Take a glance at the typical office today, and you’re likely to see team members who are aged 22, 62 and everywhere in between. It can be difficult to manage these people when they all have different attitudes and styles of doing work. Older managers, for this reason, have always had a bit of trouble working with younger employees.
Nowadays we’re seeing something interesting – some offices are beginning to have the opposite problem. It’s no longer the older individuals managing younger ones that we have to worry about – it’s millennials who are rising to management positions at a relatively young age and managing older employees. This phenomenon is still fairly new, and it’s become perplexing in offices everywhere.
Millenials – the new face of business?
The millennial generation originated in the 1980s, which means its oldest members are now 30 and older. These individuals are starting to aspire to leadership positions, and things are getting interesting as a result, according to Workplace Trends.
The news source revealed that, per the “The Multi-Generational Leadership” study conducted by Future Workplace, millennials are the new face of business today. Among today’s companies, 83 percent have seen millennials managing members of Gen X – and 45 percent worry that it may have a negative effect on company culture.
“As more baby boomers retire, millennials are moving into leadership positions and are faced with managing older generations, which they were never trained to do,” said Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace. “Millennials need to respect and support the needs and careers of Gen X and baby boomers if they want to learn, develop and eventually become the executives corporate America requires to move forward.”
It’s time to get together and learn
A lot of people are worried about the rapid advancement of the millennial generation. What if older employees aren’t ready to be managed by younger ones? What if millennials don’t yet have the necessary skills to lead? These are real issues.
According to Human Resource Executive Online, the best organizations fight these problems by having open, honest dialogues about them. For example Vanessa Walsh, head of leadership and professional development at Wells Fargo, told the news source that her office uses a program called “My Generation,” in which employees from different age groups can discuss their differences respectfully.
“We don’t have one group focused on boomers or Gen Xers or millennials,” Walsh told HRE Online. “These groups just get people together to learn about these different age groups.”
The great thing about work – that it’s diverse and includes many different perspectives – is also the challenging thing about it. Employees must work together to overcome this challenge.