“The beauty of the world lies in the mixing, managing, acceptance, and appreciation of generational differences.” Ty Howard
Successful cross-generational-friendly organizations do six things that make their environments generationally comfortable, according to Generations at Work, by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak. These organizations:
- Accommodate employee differences.
They treat their employees as they do their customers. There is a real effort to accommodate personal scheduling needs, work-life balance issues, and non-traditional lifestyles. Each generation’s language and interests are acknowledged and incorporated into the culture.
- Create workplace choices.
They allow the workplace to shape itself around the work being done, the customers being served, and the people who work there. Dress policies tend to be casual. “Change” is an assumed way of living and working. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. There’s an element of humor and playfulness about most of their endeavors.
- Operate from a sophisticated management style.
The managers are a bit more polished than the norm. They tend to be more direct. They give those who report to them the big picture, specific goals, and measures, then they turn their people loose- giving them feedback, reward, and recognition as appropriate.
There are six attributes that characterize the managers’ flexibility:
(1) Their leadership style is situationally varied.
(2) They depend less on positional than on personal power.
(3) They know when and how to make personnel policy exceptions, without causing a team riot.
(4) They are thoughtful when matching individuals to a team or a team or individual to an assignment.
(5) They balance concern for tasks and concern for people.
(6) They understand the elements of trust and work to gain it from their employees. They are perceived as fair, inclusive, good communicators, and competent in their own right.
- Respect competence and initiative.
They assume the best of their people. They treat everyone, from the newest hire to the most seasoned employee, as if they have great things to offer and are motivated to do their best. It is an attitude that has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Nourish retention.
They are focused on retention and on making their workplaces magnets for excellence. They offer lots of training, from one-on-one coaching opportunities to interactive computer-based training to an extensive and varied menu of classroom and virtual courses. Not only do they encourage regular lateral movement within their organizations, but they have broadened assignments.
- Market internally.
They spend time learning how to become the employer of choice in their industry and region, and they continually “sell the benefits” to retain the best and brightest of their employees.
Contact Deborah Laurel at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive a Cross-Generational Inventory that will help you determine how cross-generationally friendly your organization is.
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