A new and heterogeneous band of leaders and employees is pervading the workforce today. It is a multi-generational group dominated by Gen-Xers and millennials. These generations are characterised by multi-dimensional traits.
While one demands autonomy the other are intensely collaborative; one wears the traits of self-expression with greater ease than the other. The need for recognition varies, as does the pace of working and the ease with which they embrace digital communication.
Organisations will need to sensitise both generations to work with each other.
Creating a collaborative work environment
Organisations need to understand both generations individually and together. Recognising their values, and accepting that while their work ethics are different, neither is superior nor inferior is important. Organisations need to develop programs and strategies that will allow them to leverage the positive qualities of each generation.
Managing millennials: The need for periodic feedback and shared sense of responsibility are important to millennials. Gen-Xers, in most cases, managing the millennials need to understand the importance and consider bringing these aspects to their style of management.
Gelling with Gen-X: Millennials need to be shown how to cope with the result-orientated approach central to Gen-Xers. The shared values of flexibility, work-life balance and need for technology can be the strong glue between the two generations.
What can employers do?
Millennials look for role models in the workplace. This is especially true for the Indian millennial. Our research reveals that mentorship is among the key factors for millennials in India to choose an employer.
Placing a strong mentorship program with the seniors of the organisation can go a long way in enabling both gen-xers and millennials to shine in the workplace.
It is vital that the organisational culture explains what both generations offer to each other, what they expect in return and helps both grow. By encouraging learning and providing feedback in the manner each generation understands will go a long way in minimising conflict.
Both, generation x and millennials can translate their strengths into advantages in the workforce, often smashing preconceptions and stereotypes. There is thus no ‘one size fits all’ managing style that works well with both the younger generations. If the culture of the organisation conveys the right message, the wisdom and experience of the gen-x workforce can be passed on to the millennials, whose fresh ideas and technical skills may be woven into the knowledge of the older generation.