It is often hard to unlearn what we’ve learned. Informal discussions with people across all generations confirm this in my mind. Does your team or organization require multigenerational supervision?
Multigenerational supervision implies that a supervisor must flex his or her style to appropriately navigate and lead across all workforce generations.
Ask anyone to put some thought into the problem areas for reaching across all generations. They would probably suggest that communication is one problem. Close runner-ups would probably include change and technology approaches to work.
Why is it that these areas are so problematic? You could argue it is connected to values and beliefs. You could argue it is connected to how we’ve learned, parental styles, educational backgrounds, rural vs urban living, and many other factors.
The truth is that all these factors are in-part a catalyst for generational challenges. So how do we navigate?
Supervisors are always challenged with situational leadership. Which to me implies, they must manage situations somewhat differently depending on the circumstances. It does not mean the rules or policies are different for different people. Just the style is different.
There are two main factors to consider here:
- Traditionals and baby boomers learned to accept commands from the boss. The youngest millennials and generation Z (Gen 9/11, iGen) learned from a more servant style of leadership. True with many parental philosophies. True in their perception of workplace roles.
- Communication across the generations has similar aspects. Traditionals and baby boomers are more accustomed to not offering opinions or suggestions. They knew workplace cultures of not playing a role in decision making and problem solving, that was the job of management. The youngest in the workforce expect (and depend on) a more collaborative style.
So, the best multigenerational supervisors (regardless of their own generation) are the ones that can unlearn, adapt, or flex their personal style.
The underlying philosophies of adaptation and respect are required across the entire generational framework.
Are you able to unlearn? Are you flexible?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.