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Essay: Generational groups within the workplace

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
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  • Published: 22 September 2015*
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  • Words: 1,103 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 5 (approx)

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Each generation entering and working within organizations differs from the previous one in terms of education, values, aspiration, work attitudes, and world views. Managers are increasingly grappling with generational differences in their workforces. Beagrie (2013) referenced four distinct generational groups:
Veterans are people who were born before 1946 and are very loyal, disciplined, logical, and detail oriented.
Second are Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, who are competitive and very respectful of authority (Beagrie, 2013).
Third are Gen Xers, born between 1965 and 1977, who are more likely to be skeptical and independent-minded (Beagrie, 2013).
Gen Ys also known as Millennials were born in 1978 or later and like teamwork, feedback and technology (Beagrie, 2013).
Problems can arise from different mindsets and communication styles of workers born in different eras. The friction may be aggravated by new technology and work patterns that mix workers of different ages in ever-changing teams. But the question is how a new manager would use his /her awareness of organizational momentum and generational differences to enhance his /her transition into the new position. I believe the key is to be able to effectively address and take advantage of the differences in values and expectations of each generation.
Businesses and organizations today have the unique opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of a multi-generational workforce for creating high performing and result driven teams. Different generations communicate differently and are motivated by different managing techniques. This makes it difficult for me as a manager; therefore it requires special attention to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Managing employees of different generations requires patience, balance, and careful observation of the needs and behaviors of each generational group. As a new manager in the company, I will have to adjust my managing skills to work in a variety of situations as well as facilitate communication between people with different viewpoints. The following strategies will help me to enhance my transition into my new position.
Businesses succeed when there is a cohesive environment, so the first strategy that I should be aware of is that a successful management method for one generation might not be as effective for others. By creating mixed shifts or teams in which younger employees can look to older ones for wisdom and guidance, and older generations can look to younger ones for fresh prospective, each generation can learn so many valuable skills. In this environment, the older managers will have the opportunity to mentor or train in younger managers to be more independent. On the other hand, the younger managers will have the chance to share their expertise in technology with the older managers as well.
The next strategy that I should be using as a new manager is to understand the needs of each generation. As a direct supervisor of these five mid-level managers, I am in a better position to learn what each manager values, wants and needs are to be most productive. For instance, Boomers will probably relish being put in charge of a project; a Gen-Xer will appreciate the autonomy to complete a task his way; and a Millennial will enjoy sharing ideas with a creative team who are working together (Lesonky, 2011).
Another strategy is that I need to understand what motivates each manager. Determining what would motivate each person, especially in this situation can be very challenging since I will be managing people from outside my own generation. ‘Hard work’ means something different for different generations. Some believe, specially the older managers, that hard work is the number of hours put in (more equals better). Others believe that hard work is getting the work done in as short of the time possible. Some people need instant gratification however, others are happy for recognition at anytime. Most of the time younger generations have high expectations and like to hear frequent positive feedback about their progress. Some of the managers will be looking to gain all the knowledge and experience they can to push themselves ahead in a set career path; others will be more cushion before they retire. Typically younger generations are more attracted to a learning environment that utilize interactive technology and adapt better to technology-integrated system. On the other hand older generations tend to prefer handbooks and more traditional form of training. I need to realize that ultimately, everyone wants a job that besides paying bills will interest them and give them the respect they feel they deserve.
Finally, I will need to be able to keep the communication open. Each generation has a different set of values and work ethics that may not translate well between generations. This might result in miscommunication and confusion in the workplace, therefore; it is important that all managers understand that open communication is very essential in the workplace. It is very crucial that they feel comfortable enough with any aspect of their work environment and if they are not, they should be able to come and discuss the situation. Halvorson (2014) discussed that a manager should act like a ‘mediator’ between employees of the different generations to decode confusion and help each employee understand a frustrating situation. He suggested variety of communication methods that will appeal to each generation: announcing an open door policy, having a suggested box, and having regular periodical reviews for times of one-on-one conversation (Halvorson 2014). It is very crucial that I would educate my employees so that they are aware of the fundamental differences between each generation and that the strengths of each generation are all important to the company.
Based on Fiedler Contingency model, there is no one best style of leadership. Instead, a leader’s effectiveness is base on the situations (Johnson). As a new manager in the company, I need to recognize that no matter how hard I try, I might not be able to change the generations’ behaviors. I should accept what I cannot change and instead, acknowledge the validity of each generation’s value and change so I would be able to motivate them effectively and efficiently. I also should remember that I belong to one of these generations too and it undoubtedly impacts my mindset to one degree or another. The more I can be open to work styles unlike my own, the more it can benefit my business. At the end of the day, which generation people are born into matters a lot less than whether they feel valued and respected at work. Providing managers with challenging, purposeful work in an environment that recognize and rewards their unique contribution, while respecting their individual need, is still the best approach to manage any diverse workforce and enhance my transition into new position.

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