Don’t Forget the Basics of Generational Leadership

Managers often struggle with how to best manage millennials, and the topic of effectively managing groups of certain generational categories (baby boomers, millennials, gen x, etc.) is well documented. Every generation was brought up in their own unique way…good, bad, or indifferent. Our parents, family, friends, economic circumstances, and experiences all played a role in shaping who we are, among other things. These all contribute to managers needing to be more adept at understanding differences and adjusting management style accordingly.

However, it strikes me that managers struggling for answers very often overlook the basics. In an effort to be an exceptional manager, which is admirable, they often neglect fundamental tenants of management. Doing so undermines their best generational leadership efforts. Rather than spend time on why, managers need to focus on how all generations can work most effectively together. If we keep in mind those things that matter to us all, the challenge is much less arduous.

First, everyone wants to be treated with courtesy and respect. It’s human nature, and it doesn’t matter what generational category you’re in. As a manager, what behaviors do you exhibit that clearly shows you respect your employees? What are the day in/day out things that you do that shows you care about your team as human beings?

  • Do you keep them informed on team and company news?
  • Do you empathize when they’re balancing life issues with work?
  • Do you engage in more than just casual talk about non-work issues, showing genuine care for their lives outside of work?

Second, everyone wants a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. As a manager, what do you do to ensure your team is not exposed to any discrimination and/or harassment? And if it occurs, what are you doing to stop it and prevent it from happening again?

  • Do you address harassing or discriminatory behavior immediately, and make sure it’s clear to the team it will not be tolerated?
  • Do you take appropriate steps to insulate your team from harassing or discriminatory behavior from your clients or customers?
  • Do you provide assurance of fairness and discretion if someone comes forward to you with a complaint?

Third, everyone wants to be acknowledged and rewarded for achieving strong results. As a manager, what do you do each day to let your team members know they’re valued, and that their hard work is appreciated?

  • In addition to annual raises and promotions, do you provide non-monetary acknowledgements of appreciation regularly
  • Do you go to bat with higher-ups for greater recognition and advancement for strong performers?
  • Do you offer regular opportunities for plum assignments to strong performers?

Each of these strikes a chord with all generations. Get to know your people as best as you can, and they will make it evident what’s most important to them. Once that’s done, then can you begin to address workplace nuances found in each generational category.

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