3 Steps to Leading a Multi-generational Team
Gen Y have not only now entered the workplace, but they have also entered management roles which means that they need to lead, motivate and engage different generations with each bearing their own strengths. The challenge is as much about understanding the generational differences and communicating and leading accordingly as it is about maintaining cohesion in the team.
There is a new leadership skill needed in town and that is being able to create a melting pot. This means creating an environment where differences are recognized and interact harmoniously to create a common culture.
Gen Y leaders whose team is composed of different generation can facilitate the process by following these 3 steps:
Step 1: Agree on the Common Grounds
This is the core. This is the “agora”, the fire camp, where everyone regroups, has cohesion, belongs and agrees. Part of this is the culture, the values, the mission and the vision as well as the goals.
Members need to understand clearly what they are working towards and what the business will stand for and what it will not tolerate to achieve it. When this is in place, it is easier to negotiate, limit conflicts and come to an agreement simply by asking “Is this getting us closer to where we want to go? In a way that we can stand by?”
Step 2: Understand Individualities
Yes most generalizations about Gen X and Gen Y are correct, but they remain generalizations that don’t take into account the different type of personalities or background and history of the individual.
Have a coffee chat with your team members, find out what makes them tick. What their values are, their life goals, their pet hates and their strengths. And, maybe above all, how they like to operate.
Step 3: Enable the Harmony
Now you need to create a harmony between all the differences you have found out in step 2 so you can get the best results as set in step 1. To do that you need to guide your team through 3 steps, in the following particular order.
- Respect: Each member must respect others’ way of thinking and operating, whether they are from a different generation or have a different personality. This is the first and most crucial step. Even if other ways don’t always make sense or aren’t always effective, understanding others should not be a prerequisite to respecting others.
- Best Practice: This is about finding in each different approach what can benefit all to achieve the agreed common goals. Whether it is using technology like Gen Y or creating processes like Gen X. Generate a structure around it, create procedures to document what works best. Because you already have step 1 in place, which was creating a common ground around results, it is easy to convince each party to follow what makes the most sense in terms of outcome.
- Apply: Now implement the structures that have been created and see members using each other’s best practices. Each strength is being recognized and used for the greater benefit of the business. In any given situation, the first step is always to come from a place of respect. Nothing is all good or all bad about any of the generations.
Adopting the point of view that all Gen Y have the entitlement syndrome and all Gen X or baby boomers have old-fashioned views is not getting us closer to a positive outcome. Instead, let’s focus on what strengths each has that can benefit everyone else. In other words, let’s focus on the solution rather than the problem.
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