With one generation working well into retirement, and younger generations entering the workforce sooner, project managers are faced with the challenge of overseeing up to four generations of employees in the workplace. To work with multiple generations, it’s important to understand who they are as and where they come from. Each generation has unique strengths, characteristics, preferences, expectations, beliefs and work style.
- Baby Boomers were born from 1946 to 1964, and they find their self-worth through a strong sense of job loyalty. Most Baby Boomers have worked in the same industry since high school and plan to stay there until retirement.
- Generation X was born from 1965 to 1980, and are independent workers who want to know everything, learn it quick and take the fast track to success. They tend to manage their own careers, and have less loyalty to a company or organization, but they are goal-oriented and results driven.
- Millennials are those born after 1980. They are the first generation raised in a digital world full of technology, multi-tasking, and instant gratification. They were more spoiled than any other generation, making them more concerned with themselves and their own success. They are natural entrepreneurs with confidence, passion, and often care more about ethics than previous generation.
If you can create a work environment that values the differences in others, you have a much better chance of creating an effective team. Here’s a few ideas to get started:
- Start a Mentoring Program: A mentoring program can help a multigenerational environment by allowing each generation to see the value in others and develop mutual respect. This means the old mentoring the young, as well as reverse mentoring of the young mentoring the older.
- Reward Productivity and Longevity: Bonuses, rewards, and incentive programs should focus much more on productivity, but acknowledging the loyalty of those who have stayed with the company is beneficial for both generations to be rewarded and see the value of commitment.
- Embrace Technology: Social media and online communities enhance your team’s collaboration. Use online group chat to encourage communication across all team members.
- Know the Individuals: Not all millennials are self-absorbed and not all baby boomers are still using flip phones. Get to know the individuals on your team and find common ground to begin a strong foundation for your team.