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Tips For Leading Multigenerational Teams

Written by: Dr. Wendy Norfleet, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

We live in times where we can interact with approximately three to five generations, such as millennials, traditionalists, boomers, and Generations X and Z. All of these generations have unique characteristics and individual personalities. Therefore, when it comes to managing them at an organizational level, it can be quite a task and requires proper knowledge and experience so that one course of action would not be wrong for the other generations. Many studies and practices have been conducted in this regard, and people have been trying to form a method that will help them to utilize all of this generational knowledge for an equal chance of growth and success. This article provides a few key points which can help organizational leaders and encourages having people from different backgrounds and age groups, given that diversity is highly appreciated.

Business men and women celebrating in the office.

Open Communications

When people from different generations work together, they will inevitably have their own preferences for getting things done. One should not assume or expect one generation to take up the ways of another. Therefore, healthy and open communication in this situation is essential. In some instances, understanding how a generation prefers to communicate can further team cohesion. When working with multiple generations, you will encounter a preference for phone calls with some, while others may prefer texts or email messages. There is no right way to communicate, but you must discover what works best for the team. Sometimes, it may be an email message followed by a call. To successfully work with multigenerational teams, the best course of action is to remain open to individual preferences. As long as the team is productive and working as a true team, does it matter whether they prefer email or text messages?

Boundaries

Working in companies that promote diversity provides the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds, races, and gender. The topics once considered inappropriate to be discussed in an office environment are now regarded as important, given that some generations are more expressive of their social views. Discussing religion, sexualities, political opinions, etc., was taboo in the past. But now, some generations are more open and expressive regarding these subjects. Keep in mind that while some may be open to discussion, specific topics remain off-limit to leaders. For those topics that are now more acceptable, ensure that discussing the issue will not make one of the generations uncomfortable. There are still boundaries that should not be crossed.

Team Requirements

Despite the age differences, we are all humans at the end of the day, and we mostly want the same thing when working with team members. Most generations are looking to be accepted, to be heard, to be valued, to be respected, and to be included. No matter which generation you belong to, these things are essential to working and growing in an organization. Therefore, it becomes crucial for the leader to consider the team members’ needs when creating an environment where all team members thrive.


Out of the Box Thinking


Creating multigenerational teams will result in a wide variety of organizational ideas. A leader must navigate these ideas so they do not discourage participation while helping shape and grow the ideas with merit. With a multigenerational team, it is said the idea generation is often outside of the box. The leader’s role is to guide ideation so that the team achieves its goals in the best way possible. Given all the diversity in ideas from a multigenerational team, a leader will most likely identify several ideas to help the organization grow.


Mix Things Up


Diversity among team members is a common goal when forming teams. Have a go at building teams that incorporate multiple generations. Every generation carries its abilities, knowledge, and experiences. Capitalizing on multigenerational teams can promote cross-training and mentoring, where the more seasoned generations can assist their more youthful counterparts.


Culture of Feedback


Create a feedback culture. While you may have heard that younger team members seek a coach and older team members do not. Research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership resulted in confirmation that what all generations want is feedback. Feedback can be provided in various ways, and when used to build your team, all generations appreciate receiving it. Creating an environment where the sill of feedback is taught and practiced is a great way to grow and enhance your organization.


In summary, there is a place for all generations in the workplace. A good leader knows how to bring multiple generations together, help them better understand one another, and use their experiences and skills to strengthen the team. So, let go of your assumptions about generational differences and spend more time developing good team members and leaders of all ages.


Ready to Take the Next Step?


Build your employees’ skills at leading across generations by partnering with Norfleet Integrated Solutions. Let us provide training topics that include Leading Across Generations, Change & Disruption, Teamwork & Collaboration, Conflict Management, Listening to Understand, Virtual & Remote Teams, and much more.


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Dr. Wendy Norfleet, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Wendy Norfleet is an engineer turned CEO, author, certified coach, and community advocate. Leveraging her business knowledge, leadership skills, community engagement, and desire to help others, she works with individuals and organizations to identify challenges, execute solutions, and achieve results. In recognition of her service, Wendy has been honored with numerous leadership awards, recognized as a Women of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal, selected as a 2021 Small Business Leader of the Year, and helped her company achieve the 2021 Corporate Vision Award for Best Business Consulting and Coaching Company ‒ North Florida.

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