How to Effectively Manage Gen X vs. Millennial Employees
How to Effectively Manage Gen X vs. Millennial Employees
Many business owners are looking for ways to get the younger generations to change their work ethic and behavior. As an effective manager, it is important to understand who you are managing and that comes down to identifying all the unique needs of all the generations that make up your workforce.
Different generational groups have different behaviors, norms, work ethic, and this is not expected to change. Each generation strongly believes in their work ethic and way of life because all of us are products of our upbringing. Our various norms and behaviors impact the workplace in many unique ways. Since you cannot change the work ethic of any generation, as an effective manager, the question you should ask is how do you recruit, retain, and motive generations X and Y or millennials. The differences between the X generation and millennial employees will help you know how to handle each of these distinct group of employees.
Generation-X employees refer to those individuals within your workforce who were born between 1965 and 1978. This group of individuals is highly independent, pragmatic, tech-savvy, and competent. Much of their independence is attributed to the latchkey experience that many of them shared. Parents who both worked away from home and single parents raised many Xers. Their children had no one to help them manage various house chores and their own day-to-day duties. Because of these unique early experiences, the X generation learned to be self-managing.
Also, these early experiences caused them to have a work-life balance that is often lacking in their workaholic parents to try to take care of some responsibilities at home as well. Furthermore, the experiences influence the feelings of this generation toward their employers, which also makes them change jobs with short periods. Within three to five years, they change jobs. They are inclined to be free agents and have little trust for corporate motives.
If your objective is to recruit, retain, and motivate your employees who belong to this generation, you have to appeal to their desire for balance. Come up with versatile, flexible family-friendly programs and also encourage them to work independently and encourage their ability to manage multiple priorities. At the same time, eliminate bureaucracy and tenure-based rewards. While this is critical, do not go to the extent of eliminating yourself. These individuals crave feedback, particularly from their leaders, and if you eliminate your contribution, they will not get this and eventually become discouraged.
Furthermore, create strong relationships and foster trust by spending one-on-one time with these employees. Put great emphasize on their achievements and results and not the methods they used to achieve them. Also, ensure they are fully involved in decision-making to be able to make effective use of their problem-solving skills. When they are not involved in decision making, they begin to think that they are less valued and give up. Other than involving them in decision making, whenever you want something done, assign it to them. They have had valued self-managing strategies from childhood.
Generation Y (Millennials)
Members of this generation were born between 1979 and 1994. They are often impatient, entitled, and outspoken with very little ability to take criticism positively. While most experts agree that they have greater potential than the previous generations, they are often high maintenance. These attributes are caused by the fact that millennials grew up with doting parents, instant gratification, and in an environment where everyone gets rewarded.
Some major positive attributes of millennials are they are adaptable and flexible and are well equipped to manage an ever-increasing rate of change. They are more than techno savvy and are often described as technology-sophisticated beings. And they are very independent minded. Although they have witnessed corruption escalate in many spheres of life, they still strongly hold that they have all that it takes to fight this vice and similar ones and make the world a better place to live in than they found it.
Millennials also have a strong desire to work in a free environment. If you want to retain them, offer both flexibility and fun. This may be a requirement that baby-boomer managers may find superfluous. But any organization that is keen on attracting and retaining many millennials will have to support even greater levels of work-life balance. A few great ways to achieve this offer short sabbaticals and the latest technology.
If you imagined that the three-to-five-year tenures for the X generation were too short, then you will be shocked to realize that members of the Y generation change jobs even more frequently. Members of this generation can be impatient and expect to move up fast. They do not believe in working many years in one position and walking their way up over a long period. This means you should share possible career paths openly and often to help them make the best career choices at the most appropriate time so as to be to save both their time and yours.
If you are a baby-boomer business owner, do not spend a lot of your energy on trying to get the younger generation to abandon their work ethics. Human beings are products of their upbringing, and the parenting norms, events, people and issues that each generation encountered are different. That accounts for these differences in work ethic and behavior.
Therefore, to manage the X generation and Y generation successfully, you need to recognize their unique values and accept that a work ethic that is different from your own is not necessarily inferior to yours. Rather than try to get them to change, develop programs and strategies that will help you to leverage all the positive qualities of all generations that make up your workforce to the advantage of your business and your employees.