Managing the generational challenge in the workplace
What you need to know:
- To start with, you may have to collect a baseline survey to understand the age demographics in your organisation. This will also include asking what motivates and what are the goals of these different categories of your staff.
I have recently been promoted to a new position. My fellow managers and I are significantly older than the teams we lead. A noted challenge is that we have different definitions and appreciation of work. As a result, the young generation of the workforce and managers are struggling to get on the same page about how we should work and how we engage. How do I address this issue before it becomes a crisis and negatively impacts the organisation?Susan
Hello Susan, managing the generational gap in the workplace is a reality for many of us. Uganda has the youngest population, and given this landscape, it is only natural that organisations face the fact that their employee population will be composed of young people, and managers of the organisations need to define strategies that bring and support young people. It is also important to be aware that while we acknowledge a younger workforce, one should not assume that only the “older people” know what is best. There needs to be an open mind to learn from what the younger employees bring to the table. Everyone has an opportunity to learn. As you try to manage the generational gap in the workplace, you must clearly understand what you want to achieve. It is essential that this vision is clear and understood by everyone. The overarching goal is to ensure that the organisation thrives despite all these moving parts. The question then becomes how to balance the needs of older and younger employees.
To start with, you may have to collect a baseline survey to understand the age demographics in your organisation. This will also include asking what motivates and what are the goals of these different categories of your staff. We also need to recognise that business success requires innovation, the willingness to change and transform and, of course, embracing technology. On innovation, change and technology, the younger adults are more robust and are open to doing and learning how to do things differently. With the embedding of technology in everything we do, the skills and mindset required to work with technology have also changed. In many cases, the younger generation is tech-savvy and quick, while the older generation may be slower.
In trying to include young adults in the workplace, we should also acknowledge older managers’ values they can pass on to a younger workforce. This could be primarily around behaviour development, which can be passed on through mentoring programmes, sharing the crucial aspects such as delivering quality work, providing what you promised, honesty, ownership, building a personal brand, integrity etc. Getting the balance will change a fundamental aspect of the organisation. Good luck!
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U) [email protected]