The Challenge of Multi-Generational Leadership—How You Can Lead a Diverse Workforce


Today’s workforce consists of multiple generations each with their own skills, communication style, and working preferences. As a manager or supervisor, those differences can seem rather daunting to manage. However, it can be done.

In most offices, you’ll find Baby Boomers, Generation X employees, Millennials and perhaps a few Generation Zers. While Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of one every seven seconds, they still make up a large portion of the workforce. Millennials, however, make up the greatest portion of the workforce.

As a manager, it is important to understand how each generation handles communication, work hours, collaboration, and benefits. For example, while Baby Boomers value a steady position that offers a 9 to 5 schedule, Millennials prefer flexible work hours where they can take their work home.
Another key difference is with communication. Millennials prefer modern communication and technology through text messages and email, while older generations may prefer contact through phone calls primarily.

At the cross-section of Millennials and Baby Boomers are Generation Xers. They value their time as a top priority and would rather spend it working and getting the job done, than in the meeting room chatting about ideas. Their personal time is their most valuable asset.
So where does that leave a multi-generational leader like yourself? What are some ways you can keep your team on the same page while minimizing conflict?

Create a Flexible Workplace: As previously mentioned, most Baby Boomers want to work a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, while younger generations are more interested in flexible working hours and with little reservation in taking their work home. Find a way to accommodate these differences and communicate openly with your team. Inform them of their options and let everyone know they are being evaluated on the same scale.

Communicate on Their Terms: Accommodate your team by providing communication methods that work for them. Whether that means sending out text messages for group projects or adding an email stream to your project communication, find out what works for each team member to create a harmonious environment.

Generational leadership is as rewarding as it is challenging. As you navigate the differences between your team you’ll find a pattern that works for everyone. Use these tips to keep yourself on the right path.