In our work we hear more concerns from leaders about the changing dynamics of the workplace. They struggle to connect with the younger millennials, and worry that the older boomers are stuck and resistant to change. As for GenerationX, well they don’t even know who they are. What they do know is that finding talent, keeping them enagaged and developing careers is getting harder, because people seem to want different things from work now. It’s not just about the salary.
Our research shows that we are more alike than we are different, but our values and wants have a different edge.
Boomers are experienced and don’t want to be undermined, disrespected or consigned to the waste heap. They’ve seen many leaders come and go and simply want the direction, then the respect and autonomy to get on and do the job at hand. They have been through so much change that they can be a little cynical, but don’t write them off, learn from them. They can be your best change makers and influencers if only you spend the time getting them on board. Their wisdom and knowledge needs to be bottled, so let them train, mentor and guide the next generation.
GenerationX have 25-35 years experience now, so they have plenty of experience. They were mentored by the boomers, so they understand and respect them. They raised and mentored millennials, so totally get where they are coming from.
They love autonomy and are happy to make decisions, but they don’t want to be left alone. They love cooperation, brainstorming and working together to achieve.
They want freedom, creativity and equity. They are liberal in their attitudes and value fun and experience. They want the support from others to do a great job, to be a team, but the freedom to find solutions and act on them.
Now there is a very important sub generation that is only recently being discussed. They are different. They think differently and they are in prime position to lead as they are the bridge between the GenX and Millennials. Meet the Xennials (1977-1984). They like to work remotley, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Trust them, listen to them and they will get the job done. They like their leaders to inspire them, give them distance and freedom, and treat them like an adult. They love collaboration and exploring possibilities, but love to be the masters of their own destinies. The enrepreneurial, head and heart, purpose driven self starters. Micro-management them at your peril.
Millennials want to be respected and to stop being treated like kids. Trust them to do a great job and they will rise to the occasion. They want to collaborate, be inspired by others, learn from others and work flexibly. Don’t put them in a box.
Understanding the wants and needs of your people means a different kind of leadership. Learning emotional intelligence, conversational intelligence and coaching skills will give you the skills to lead a multi-generational workforce who are inspired, engaged and who deliver.
Leading with vision, aligning your people and executing your plans are all measurable skills that you can develop. Our profiling tools based on the Work of Leaders is a great starting place. Then coaching or a leadership development programme, team and organisational development will create the organisation you want and your people want.