3 Tips to Lead a Multi-Generational Workforce

January 29, 2016 1:08 pm
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posted within Workforce Development

Multi-Generational Workforce

Written by: Christopher Marcum,

Have you ever struggled to lead a multi-generational workforce in your Miami Valley Ohio manufacturing facility? We’ve all seen how different (and sometimes conflicting) styles, personalities, and work habits in employees from different generations can sometimes cause unintended friction and slow down results.

Not accounting for generational differences in your team can not only get projects started off on the wrong foot, but also lead to stress and friction throughout the project. Alternatively, recognizing generational differences early on and having a ready plan of action can alleviate conflicts, promote group harmony, and even increase your team’s ability to provide better deliverables by taking advantage of each generation’s strengths.

Here are 3 tips to try when leading your multi-generational manufacturing workforce:

1. Communicate in Each Generation’s Language. Studies show that every generation communicates in ways that differ from each other. For example, those in the Silent Generation (born before 1946) tend to prefer formal, respectful, face-to-face conversation, whereas Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) lean towards relational conversation in which personal and work topics are blended, often over a meal or a drink. Generation X (born 1965–1980) usually communicate via a direct email or voicemail that gets right to the point, and Millennials (born 1981–2000) unsurprisingly communicate most often through modern means such as text or IM messaging. Find the means of communication that works best for each team member and leverage it.

2. Understand What Motivates Each Generation. Just as different generations of workers communicate in different ways, so also are they motivated in different ways. We all have differing needs, wants, and preferences—and these often fall within specific areas based on the generation we come from. For example, a Silent Generation or Baby Boomer worker may crave a quiet environment and a nurturing work culture that can help them continue to grow as they near retirement. On the other hand, a younger Gen X or Millennial worker might seek out a more modern and faster-paced workplace in which they can compete for commissions or bonuses. Know what motivates those in your workforce and use it to the team’s advantage as you press toward common goals.

3. Establish Two-Way Mentoring. Multiple studies indicate that mentoring relationships help both the mentor and the mentee succeed in their career. Besides reaping the obvious benefits (older workers gaining fresh perspective and learning new skills, younger workers gaining the benefit of experience and learning proven ways to succeed), mentors and mentees are significantly more likely (20% or more) to receive raises and promotions than those who do not participate in mentoring. So establish a mentoring program in your multi-generational workforce—it will help to eliminate generational barriers, build respect among teammates, and strengthen your team overall.

Which of these 3 tips will you try today to lead your multi-generational manufacturing workforce ? 

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