How do you lead an intergenerational team?

How do you lead an intergenerational team?

Recently I have been speaking to a number of CEO’s and even presenting workshops on this topic as there is a definite change happening when it comes to planning for a “career” in the intergenerational workforce we now have. Earlier this year one of my clients was so proud and excited to announce that they had 5 generations within their team, I loved how they celebrated this with their team and customers as it is an amazing achievement. Since then my conversations with clients and others in business, is how do we manage these teams that have those who are nearing retirement, set in their ways and don’t want change and those who are seeking the “next thing”, how do we engage them while being mindful that this last group is highly likely they will be with you for a “short time not a life time”.

Career path progression is different for each person it’s not purely their generation, we all know that the workforce and workplace has changed. Back in the 1980’s I was connected with members of the Australian Defence Force and found it fascinating how they could plan out their career, fondly known as the “Dream Sheet”. In business there was the natural progression due to tenure (more often than not) that people moved up the ladder. My question is “Were they truly happy or just doing it because that was what was expected of them by their employer, family and friends”?

Today we know that “tenure” is no longer the only way to progress (in the majority of organisations), but is it all about planning for the long term either? After working with thousands of Gen Y and Gen Z individuals I have seen that they are determined to succeed, some having a very clear career path but for others they only have a “general” idea of where they want to end up, there isn’t that clear pathway for them as they are seeking out new ways and new directions to stop the “boredom”. Yes boredom.

As a senior leader how do you stop the “boredom”? It’s putting aside your natural tendency perhaps, to have everything planned and to stop shaking your head and muttering under your breath; how can they be bored, this isn’t school, use their initiative, do their job and all those other comments that swirl around your head when you hear the word “bored”!

I believe it’s all about understanding their “drivers”, “triggers”, what motivates them and what demotivates them. It’s taking the time to chat with them, hearing their ideas and clearly watching for the moment their eyes light up it’s at that moment you have a starting point and maybe even a direction in helping them with the next step or steps on their career path.

Personally I believe a career has to evolve therefore it has to be fluid and not rigid, set in stone and won’t tolerate any changes. Life is continually changing and evolving and at a “hectic” pace, we hear so often that many of the jobs of today won’t be around in the next ten years maybe even sooner, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and technology in general is putting the pressure on this constant change, so how can we expect the individuals in our organisations to know their exact career path when it may change without warning with their “dreams” shattered.

As leaders if we don’t engage our teams, share their dreams, mentor them, share our wisdom and be open to all the new opportunities that we may never had at the outset of our careers, they will leave and may even “flounder” in their careers.

They are seeking out mentors, so be more than a “boss” be their mentor. Don’t see “boredom” as something negative but instead see it as an opportunity to encourage someone to be their best, do more and be more to achieve a life truly lived not one that is lived for others no matter what generation they are from.