Leading a Multi-Generation Workplace

Chances are you are leading a finance and accounting workplace with three or four generations of employees. Multi-generation teams function best when managers know the traits of each generation and how to effectively support their mutual work.

Which Generation is Which?

Sources state different birth years for generations as listed here:

  • Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: born 1996 to 1999
  • Gen Y or Millennials: born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
  • Traditionalists: prior to 1945

Focus on the Benefits of Multi-Generation Workplaces

Multiple generations workplaces can present challenges as everyone learns how best to work together. Benefits of your diverse employee group include:

  • Its breadth and depth of talent;
  • Opportunities for sharing knowledge and skills;
  • The advantages presented for cross-training; and
  • That the age mix reflects your customer base.

Apply Information About Each Generation

Millennials are the largest group currently in the workforce, followed by the number of Gen Xers.

  • Boomers question authority and like personal communication.
  • Gen X focuses on tasks and work-life balance, communicates directly and by email or text, and prefers direct feedback.
  • Gen Y are eager multi-taskers who use texts and social media. They prefer a lot of prompt feedback.
  • Gen Z are self-reliant, relish freedom, are digital sophisticates, and prefer small amounts of immediate feedback.

Use Generational Information to Guide Employees

Although various generations can be skeptical about working together, they have strengths to share with each other. Guide your multi-generation employees by:

  • Mixing generations across teams, blending skills to strengthen each group.
  • Supporting cross-mentoring based on assets. Boomer and Gen X managers mentor about financial history, systems, and trends. Gens Y and Z mentor teams in social media uses and how to increase workplace digital performance.
  • Instituting meeting and training opportunities that represent all generations.
  • Creating an atmosphere of mutual respect.
    • Give credit when due.
    • Quell signs of distrust or defensiveness between generations.
    • Be flexible with supervisory approaches used to accommodate individual and generational preferences.
    • Avoid stereotypes by focusing on each person’s abilities, preferences, and commitment to the organization.

For more management tips, check out Leadership Styles that Energize and Inspire.