How to effectively lead or manage generations in the workplace has been a hot topic for 2014. Data, statistics, and a few very cool infographics have been published to emphasize a great divide between generations. Top business publications such as The Wall Street Journal published many articles about how difficult it is to manage the needs of different generations in a workplace. Hopefully in 2015, the conversation will switch to realizing that these generations are more compatible than we think. By identifying a generational fit, corporations will cultivate this awesome opportunity and realize the real value they have in hiring different generations.
Current Corporate Structure
One fact that many of us fail to realize is that corporations started out as small business ideas developed by entrepreneurs. They are now merely larger, fully staffed businesses. When these corporations just started, they served to meet a demand. As the demand started to increase for their product or service, they had to grow their business to meet consumer expectations. If it takes a staff of 500 people to produce the best results, standard practices, detailed policies, and streamlined communications must be established. The CEOs and executives sometimes get so bogged down in “perfecting the process” that they fail to implement and communicate required changes frequently enough.
How the Divide Happened
Any great business owner realizes that if they want to stay in the sweet-spot in the price vs. quality (PQ) curve they have to use up-to date technology. How do you keep up with technology? Well, you hire the young people who understand it. Given this advice, companies hire the “tech savvy” gen-Xers and millennials. The issues arise when these generations are placed on teams with Baby-boomers and “great generation” colleagues that are accustomed to the old way of operating. So we spent all of 2014 discussing how much of an issue this really is and started brainstorming some solutions such as:
- Educate the managers on the differences and complementary attributes
- Develop mentoring programs
- Offer telecommuting and flex-work hours
- Engage the workplace in training opportunities
- Accommodate personal needs
- and ect.
If the thousands of articles around this topic weren’t enough, it seems like some offices still find this an issue. The possible solution is probably easier than many would think: hiring people for their particular strengths instead of placing them on teams that just may not work.
Finding the Fit.
Some of the solutions published in 2014 are great solutions and considerations, but one of the best solutions is looking at this generational mix more as an opportunity than as a problem.
When people are hired into a position, hopefully they were hired because they fit the job description and they possess particular skills and strengths that are useful on the team. Hopefully, the hiring manager will also see how this person will work within the current structure of the business and identify how the company may have to change and adapt over time with the new job market.
If you have a team of multi-taskers and hard-workers (the millennials) and workaholics (baby-boomers) maybe you would want to identify how and when people are assigned to projects. The baby-boomers may do well on larger projects that take a lot of time to prepare and launch.
When the project is ready to execute, you assign it to a millennial that may be working on two or three other projects as well. At this point, a manager should be looking more at the qualities and traits of the individuals more so than just an age group.
Outside of good project management, there is also a good generational fit in product or service development. The millennials may do an excellent job at finding different ways to use technology to grow a service or a product, where the baby-boomers will do a better job at fitting those technologies into the overall growth strategy of the company.
Growing the Value.
As previously stated, large and midsize companies were once entrepreneurial ventures that became fully developed companies. Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive in a corporate setting can be difficult; however, when the strengths of employees are best utilized in the corporate culture, that spirit can be kept alive. The Gen-Xers and Millennials are known to have more of an entrepreneurial spirit; so build the opportunity to let them spread their wings and fly in the company. Maybe the company can start a mini-shark tank experience and let employees pitch new products and services in the company’s industry. Instead of letting the individual become a competitor, invest in their ideas and provide a solid foundation for them to grow the inside of your company. Follow sustaining the entrepreneurial spirit in the workplace is a hot-topic for Argent PlaceⓇ Law. Be sure to check out the other posts we have about entrepreneurship on our website: www.argentplacelaw.com.
Depending on the company and industry type, there may be many other generational “fit” opportunities that we can discuss and examine to grow the ever-changing workplace. For now, it is just important to make sure that we start realizing that for every point we have identified for how difficult it is to manage generations and how different they are from each other, we make the same efforts for understanding how well they actually fit together and add value to a company.
Argent Place Law, PLLC serves businesses and business owners in matters of business and contract law, intellectual property law, and succession planning, including estate planning with wills and trusts. By integrating these fields of law, Argent Place Law is the law firm For The Life Of Business.TM