How to Manage Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials in One Organization


Executive Chronicles | With 75 percent of managers viewing managing multi-generational teams as a challenge, understanding how the generations view themselves and each other can give some managerial insight that could result in fostering harmony and avoiding conflict. More than one in three of today’s workers are millennials, and even though 54 percent of those 60 and over are approaching retirement, they plan to continue working.

Each generation seems to think that it’s better than the next, with 55 percent of millennials describing their generation as “most productive.” Gen X and baby boomers disagree, and they feel their generations are generally the “most skilled.” Managers can take note here by building confidence in younger employees by inquiring about long-term career goals and offering learning opportunities. Millennials view having a mentor as a positive, with 61 percent reported having one and 94 percent saying they were receiving good advice from them.

However, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers all agree that millennials lack work ethic. Only 37 percent, 16 percent and 6 percent, respectively thought that millennials were the “most productive” group. To help, managers can be open to providing work-from-home day opportunities. Ctrip, a travel agency, conducted a study to determine whether these days would improve performance, and Ctrip employees who worked from home were able to complete 13.5 percent more calls than the staff that stayed in the office.

Gen X describes their generation as the “most productive,” and managers provide opportunities to grow outside of normal job tasks like managing a new project or assisting with a big client proposal. The majority of Gen X also believes they are the best problem solvers, so use that to your business’s advantage, and let them do what they do best.

On the technological side, only 32 percent of Gen X describe their generation as being the “most tech savvy.” Baby boomers have more hope in Gen X’s technological skills than millennials (23 percent versus 8 percent). Strategies like eLearning can boost a company’s productivity level by 50 percent. Find out what technology your employees are struggling with and offer them training. Forty-nine percent of Gen X describes their generation as “most creative,” but 85 percent of millennials disagree. No matter which is most creative, Professors Leigh Thompson and Loran Nordgren at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management suggest “brain-writing.” Everyone involved writes down individual ideas first, then systematically discusses them as a group. Professor Thompson’s studies found that brain-writing groups generated 42 percent more original ideas than a traditional brain-storming group.

Only 14 percent of baby boomers describe their generation as “least cooperative/team player.” However, 47 percent of millennials disagree. Encourage employees to take part in team building exercises. They are not only fun, but foster high expectations.

Finally, only one in five people leave the office to take a lunch hour. Studies have found that the longer you stay in the office, the more important it is to step outside, even for 10 minutes. Those who study workplace psychology have found that creativity and innovation spike with people, no matter if they are baby boomers, generation X or millennials, when they change environments.

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