Today, a typical workforce is made up of four generations:
- Baby Boomers
- Gen X
- Gen Z
Each has a unique skill set and qualities they bring to the table. This article delves into the strengths of each and how best to manage each generation when putting together teams for your next project.
Baby boomers have a strong work ethic and are usually optimistic and sociable. They excel in areas of task management, working on a single area of focus versus multiple areas at once. Approaching work in this manner creates high-quality work with minimum correction and re-work needed to be done.
Boomers want loyal employers and a work environment that is respectful and helpful. A hierarchical culture is most desired as well as opportunities to mentor or coach others.
When motivating this group, it's important to keep the vibe positive and ask for feedback often, asking specific questions about their past experience and how it can be applied.
Gen X are independent, and usually strong communicators in the workplace. Like Boomers, they desire a trustworthy and loyal employer and value working with competent co-workers. Autonomy is key for the group. While they have no issues taking direction and working within a team, they need to work on projects that will allow them to "free-flow" and work independently as well.
Gen X prefers projects that are meaningful and important. To motivate this group, give them plenty of opportunities to showcase their talents, skills, and accomplishments and a chance to show off what they can do.
Poor millennials get a bad rap sometimes but they are by far the most technically savvy of all the groups. They are the products of technology and the speed of change and multitasking. They can get a lot done in a short amount of time. Due to that speed, there may be quality issues that need to be reviewed. This group more than any is driven by work that focuses on the greater good. Millennials are highly collaborative and inclusive. They thrive in a team environment and are usually flexible when it comes to schedule.
They look for employers who are compassionate and empathetic. When motivating this group, consistent feedback and reinforcement help keep them focused and on track.
Gen Z moves at the speed of light. They also are the group least likely to settle. This group is forging a new way to work. They are practical and prefer a highly diversified work environment. They want a culturally aware employer who offers competitive wages, stability, and opportunities to grow their skills.
Motivating this group is unique in that they prefer to learn on their own (self-paced) and then exhibit their skills. An effective way to motivate is by task. Gen Z will appreciate the steady pace of knocking out task after task while being shown gratitude throughout the process. For this group, it's the journey, not the destination!
Understanding each generation in the workplace is invaluable to putting together an effective team. It's equally important for each group to understand the inner workings, preferences, and work pace of the others. When each group understands the other's behaviors and what drives them, their own self-awareness increases. This helps tremendously in identifying team/group conflicts early on, focusing on finding solutions, and creating a more cohesive team.