How to successfully lead a multi-generational workforce

Left to right: Bonnie Chan-Woo (Icycle), Justin Leung (Ambition), Fyiona Yong (Wholistic Coachsulting), Karena Balin (WHub), Alex King (Ambition HaTCH)

Left to right: Bonnie Chan-Woo (Icycle), Justin Leung (Ambition), Fyiona Yong (Wholistic Coachsulting), Karena Balin (WHub), Alex King (Ambition HaTCH)

I had the great honor to speak at the Ambition HaTch Panel Discussion in Hong Kong two weeks ago. I was part of the esteemed panel together with experts from Recruitment, Tech and Start-Up.

To give you a flavor of what we discussed and shared as a panel about the challenges and opportunities related to Leadership in a multi-generational workforce, I have compiled my responses in this LinkedIn article.

Question

The modern business world consists of multiple generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. From a leader’s perspective, what are some of the advantages of having a multi-generational workplace and what are some of the challenges you see businesses facing today?

💬My Response

The differences among the generations are one of the greatest challenges managers have to face today. Smart employers and managers realize that one of the keys to growing and succeeding in an increasingly competitive global marketplace is recruiting and managing talent consisting of workers from all age groups.

Leading—and successfully managing—a multi-generational workforce is becoming a business imperative that organizations can ignore.

What are the Advantages of a multi-generational workforce?

Diversity and Inclusion is always an asset and advantage – hence generational diversity in the work place needs to be embraced. By having a multi-generational workforce, employees step out of their comfort zones and begin to collaborate with colleagues from all stages of life.

Within a team, baby boomers offer experience and corporate savvy, while Millennials are digital natives and have a willingness to jump into a project and try new things, even if they fail. Gen Xers are a great blend of the older and younger, and often a bridge between them in the workplace.

Younger hires, who are less experienced when it comes to being in the “real world,” are often open to mentoring advice from those with more experience under their belt. On the other hand, younger generations are able to teach older generations how to keep up with advancing technology and how to appeal to the younger generation customer personas.

What are the Challenges?

Age discrimination is a big concern: A manager must understand the unique traits of each generation to create a work environment where everyone can thrive.

By understanding each generation's workplace expectations, managers have a better opportunity to grasp what they are looking for in a job and what they will need to perform at their best.

There are certain things all generations want from the workplace—they want to be challenged, to be appreciated for their work, and respected.

Question

What are the common misconceptions about the Millennial generation? How can business leaders motivate and work with this generation in advancing their business vision?

💬My Response

Employers have the perception that Millennials are lazy, entitled, impatient and want to climb the corporate ladder without paying their dues.

💡Offer Growth Opportunities

2 out of 3 Millennials do not feel their strengths and skills are leveraged on. Millennials don’t join companies based on the compensation. Make sure they have room to grow in your company. Embrace their ambition and drive with additional projects that taps onto their strengths and at the same time address their development areas.

💡Be transparent

Growing up with technology, Millennials and Gen Z prefer a culture of transparency and the expectation is that leaders in the organization are honest and open to their staff.

Ensure that communication is regular and transparent to gain trust – with all employees not only the Millennials. Openly share about the company's vision, strategy and decisions in order to enhance employee engagement.

💡Career Development Conversation

Millennials have the label of being impatient and wanting to fast track their career otherwise they might jump ship. Regular development progress conversations to understand the Millennial’s career aspirations and uncover their strengths as well as development areas.

💡Mentoring

Providing regular and transparent feedback to address improvement areas. Feedback does not need to only come from the direct line manager but can also be provided through a mentor. A mentor can provide feedback and perspectives without any conflict of interest.

Consider reverse-mentoring because Management will also benefit from this pairing in order to understand how the business can improve their social media presence and be more relevant to the Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

We have to realize that age is one component, have a conversation about it, but keeping in mind that everyone has unique strengths and gifts they bring, no matter what generation they are. As leaders, we need to foster a collaborative environment instead of competition, as well as leverage on diversity and inclusion to reduce unconscious biases.

Fyiona YongComment