By Jan Murray on Tuesday 17th April 2018
Within any organisation effective staff management is not an easy task. The difficulty can be compounded when trying to manage different generations at the same time.
A study by EY, includes insights from more than 1,200 professionals, both managers and non-managers, across generations and industries about the strengths and weaknesses of workers from different generations, based on the perceptions of their peers.
Those mid-tier on the age-scale, Generation X, score highest when it comes to being the most effective managers (70%). They also scored highly when it came to being “revenue generators” (58%), being adaptable (49%), possessing strong problem-solving skills (57%) and working in collaboration (53%). Where they score less highly is in displaying executive presence (28%) and being cost effective (34%).
Finally, when it comes to the younger end of the employee spectrum, Generation Y or Millennials, are believed to be the most tech-savvy (78%), know how to use social media opportunities to leverage opportunities (70%) and are also the most enthusiastic about their jobs (68%). However, where this generation score lowest is when it comes to being team players (45%), being hardworking (39%) and being productive as part of an organisation (58%).
Clearly each generation have very valuable skills to offer, but also weaknesses that need to be addressed. Understanding and tackling the challenges of managing multiple generations will help to develop, retain and better engage employees, passing valuable knowledge and skills between one generation to another.
The key is to remember that mentoring programs are not a one-way street, with just older generations mentoring younger generations. Reverse mentoring is also important, whereby younger employees are able to mentor older employees and pass on valuable skills and knowledge. We are all on a lifelong learning journey and it doesn’t stop just because you reach a certain level of seniority.
All three generations need to develop closer links to work to support each other, not to work against each other.
Whilst training programs can provide a short term solution to developing new skills and bridging skill gaps, a long term mentoring relationship can be much more effective and cost efficient, by providing on-going development and the ability to be supported as you put your new skills into practice and refine these skills based on mentor feedback.
Being mentored by a line manager is not ideal as it limits the ability to develop an honest and open relationship. For this reason a mentor should be someone who is outside the direct day to day contact of the mentee.
Ideally, mentees should be encouraged to have a mix of mentors, from both within their own organisation and externally - their own advisory board. This enables good practice, company values and specialist skills and experience to be passed on through internal mentoring and new ideas and perspectives to be brought in through external mentors.
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