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Here is a Method that is Helping Older Supervisors Deal with their Younger Employees

Tags:  Management, Baby Boomers, Generations at work

There has been a lot of talk lately about the differences in generations at work and how these differences have caused problems. However, it seems that the biggest problem has been in believing all the hype.

Of course there are differences, but not just between generations. There are differences in people in general, in how they think, work and react to everyday situations and it's all based upon their life experiences, regardless of age. This means that not all twenty-somethings have had the same life experiences nor will they have the same goals or methods of reaching those goals.

While recent stories have explained that the younger generation – Yers, millenials – is lazy, believes in life balance over hard work, feel they know more than their predecessors, and have high expectations and are impatient about reaching them, there are many Yers out there who are not afraid of putting their nose to the grindstone to achieve their goals.

What that means to the older generation – baby boomers – is that they have to balance each person's motivations individually and not lump them all into one group. As with any team of employees, performance, aspiration and goals vary from individual to individual. With that in mind, here is how older Supervisors can deal with their younger employees.

Honesty and openness. Communication has always been at the forefront of building solid work relationships. That has not changed. However, there may be some need for Supervisors to adjust and adapt their communication style to fit that of the younger generation. Cut to the chase, get to the answer, and be completely upfront. If details need to be filled in later, so be it.

Stay current. If you've ever felt out of touch when your child has asked for help with his homework, you'll understand how important it is to know what's going on. Stay abreast of trends in order to keep in touch with your staff. It will be tough for them to believe that you can provide assistance or guidance to them if you don't know as much as they do about what's happening in technology, the corporate world or with your competitors.

Don't assume. This means about anything. What they want, who they are, how they will behave, or even that they want or need your guidance. Set the ground rules about performance, goals and behavior expectations, but then ask for their input and buy in on how and when.

Be available. For years people have paid lip service to the open-door concept. But actively cultivating such an environment is not always easy. Sometimes we get busy and need to wall ourselves off. It is still important. So open the door and allow them to walk through it. Don't push or pull them or force them to seek you out. Like a good parent, just be there when they need you. 

As with all generations, the times we grow up in heavily influence our methods of thinking and doing. The benefit is that by working together toward a common goal each generation – young or old, Yers or boomers – have the opportunity to learn from the other.


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