Managing Generational Diversity
Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked in Human Resources at different companies, which include public, private, Fortune 500 and start-ups. As time passes by, I’ve noticed that these companies are changing, primarily due to the development of three distinct generations that now rule the workforce.
As an HR leader, I must be focused on being a business partner to the entire organization. So, it is imperative that I’m viewed as a trusted advisor, confidant, and a solutions provider to all members of a company. This means I have to learn how to deal with different generations at work.
Supporting all generational workforces…
My journey began by observing and learning the differences between generations. These generational differences vary from communication styles, work ethics to expectations and learning habits. They also vary based on beliefs, behaviors, and interactions between superiors, peers, and subordinates. There is no golden rule for how to go about these generational differences. So, at LiveAction, a fast-moving start-up company based in Silicon Valley, we support all generational workforces. In this company, we strive to create an environment where culture is the key. We also create an inclusive environment where trust and respect are the most valued.
Here are a few generational situations that I’ve encountered at LiveAction:
Scenario 1 – Baby Boomer
This Baby Boomer that I work pretty close with usually comes into the office before everyone else and leaves after everyone else. Whenever I have to discuss anything with this Baby Boomer, regardless of the topic, I often speak openly and I’m as direct as I can be. I try to answer his/her questions thoroughly. I frequently expect this Baby Boomer to press me with details as we go through our situations and explore possible options and solutions (often with the help of a whiteboard). His/her work ethic is exemplary, which inspires me to be an even better version of myself.
Scenario 2—Gen Xer
I report to a Gen Xer, who often uses email as his/her primary communication tool. As a Millennial myself, I use text messages to communicate and this Gen Xer tries his/her best to respond, but the timing could be anywhere between immediate to three weeks. Nonetheless, I will get a response. When discussing anything in person, I often try to talk in shorter phrases in order to keep this Gen Xer’s attention, share information with him/her on a regular basis, and I strive to keep him/her in the loop whenever possible. From my perspective, this Gen Xer’s flexibility enables him/her to adapt to new and different situations as they arise, making this Gen Xer a brilliant leader and an exceptional culture bearer.
Scenario 3 – Millennial
As a Millennial, I represent our largest group who grew up during the technological revolution. The world I know is filled with video games, cell phones, and ATMs. I also get my news instantaneously, via a real-time feed on Twitter, Instagram or Flipboard. I value technology and use it as a tool for multi-tasking. I prefer to wear jeans at work and expect transparency at all costs. In order for me to constantly be motivated at work I have to receive frequent feedback as it happens, similar to how I get my news from Twitter. When I’m outside of work, my main form of communication is texting. So, when it comes to the workplace, I also expect similar outside forms of communication. I anticipate a challenging and fun working environment where I’m encouraged to take risks, be creative, and explore new ways of learning.
Be mindful of generational differences…
Each generation has different behaviors, expectations, communication styles and work ethics that should be respected and valued. Being mindful of these differences can help all of us personalize our communication styles and set our expectations in order to achieve maximum results. Understanding generational differences at work, learning how to deal with each unique individual and knowing their commonalities, has helped me to become more effective and efficient in a scaling organization.
August 3, 2016
Author: Cleo V. Valeroso