Leading multi-generations

Read this mobile phone threat out loud:

Jenny: ‘BAE. My new work gig is LIT. the crew is totally woke YEET’
Matt: ‘yassss queen….let’s get this bread SSKRT SSKRT’
Jenny: ‘WIG……GOAT ’

-it translates into:

Jenny: ‘I like my new job. The company is politically and socially aware which I really appreciate’
Matt: ‘Goog on you. Go for it!’
Jenny: ‘Very exciting!’

You can see how communication has changed, especially with Generation Y, Generation Z, and coming up Generation Alpha.

The workforce changes, and leadership needs to change. That doesn’t mean we have to answer to every whim of the other generations’ wishes but we have to create the awareness and empathy what each one aspires to and engages with. Our job as leaders is to create to next leaders and, therefore we need to know what motivates them and what their fears are.

Today we have up to four generations in the workforce, or even in our team:

Baby Boomers (59-73 years old)
Generation X (39-58 years old)
Generation Y or Millennials (24-38 years old)
Generation Z (10-23 years old)
Generation Alpha (under 10 years old)

Statistics say that in 2019, 20% of our workforce are Baby Boomers, 31% Generation X, 34% Generation Y and 14% Generation Z. In 2030, 23% will be Generation X, 32% Generation Y, 34% Generation Z, and 11% Generation Alpha. What these statistics show, is that times are changing, and our workforce gets younger. We can’t lead the way that we’ve been led, and the way we’ve been leading others over the last 20 years. Leadership has to change.

For example, we have to adapt to different communication styles, and we have to include everyone and lift our communication so we can engage. That doesn’t mean that we have include ‘GOAT’ and ‘SKRRT’ into every of our phone or email threads, but we have to understand that communication is becoming less formal, much faster and mainly happens on mobile phones. Think about how you need to write copy for job adds attracting GenY and GenZ. Consider the functionality keeping in mind these generations will use their mobile phones to apply for jobs and opportunities.

I do some consulting work for an organization in Europe where 70% of the company is made up of Generation Y and Generation Z. What my client has learned is that young people are interested in getting balanced feedback, discuss development and be inclusive. We need to give our team members permission to fail and give them mentors and coaches. So, if you change the way you communicate with your team members, and you build on your community, you will create a workplace of inclusive generations and culture.

Research by McCrindle shows that workplace culture (community), work-life integration (flexibility), variety (job content), leadership style (accessibility and empowerment) and training (personal and professional development) are most important to GenZ and younger. They want to be empowered to shape their own culture and create a community where environmental sustainability is ranking higher than never before. Younger generations will look for peer recommendation and check out how you show up on social media. It has to be congruent with what you say you stand for as an organisation.

Do a temperature check on your organisation and look critically on how well your workplace culture is aligned with leading multi-generations. How flexible are you when it comes to work-life integration? Do you create space for your team members to engage in social causes or personal development? How much value do you place on your leadership style, especially considering empowerment and job variety/content. What feedback do you get on your training and development opportunities?

Tips for leaders and employers (*McCrindle):
1. Diverse workforce
• Create greater EQ
• Develop skills to bridge the gap
2. Mix of generations
• Attract younger generations through their interests and values
• Interaction between generations
3. Increased options
• Recruit and train more efficiently
• Reward and recognition
4. Redefined work-life integration
• Values based culture
• Empower to make contributions and shape their own culture
5. Work as the third place
• Social connections, community, environmental sustainability
• Training and personal development

Leading multi-generations goes both ways, everyone needs to have respect for each other, understand their communication styles and values. People need to accept boundaries and be accountable but also have freedom to make decisions, make mistakes and be creative. What we can’t do is say ‘but this is how we have always done it’ or ‘my way or the highway’. We need to be flexible, integrate and collaborate. Communication and agreement are key.

If you would like us to help you with your multi-generational leadership, please contact us:

Jessica Schubert

Jessica Schubert is a Leadership Expert, Executive Coach, Facilitator, Author and Speaker. She is obsessed with helping people realise their potential and unlock their inner genius.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Jessica has travelled the world and has spent more than 20 years leading cross-cultural teams in competitive markets throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific. As she worked with and coached her own diverse, cross-cultural teams, she came to realise that learning about yourself and developing interpersonal skills is the most powerful tool to lead and influence people around you.

In 2013 she launched Intact Teams, where she and her team have worked with thousands of leaders in organisations worldwide, delivering custom-designed leadership programs and workshops. These interactive and engaging programs are offered both virtually and in-person, helping leaders and their teams succeed in a complex and ever-changing business environment.

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Jessica Schubert