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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Oct 27, 2023


There are more generations in the workforce than ever before. How do we ensure expectations are met and people work together effectively? This week we discuss how to lead a multigenerational team.



Hello and welcome to episode 207 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we discuss how to lead a multigenerational team.

There are more generations in the workforce than ever before, with up to five generations all trying to work together. Generational differences and tensions are a regular feature in any discussion of work culture and challenges. So how do we not only reduce the downside risk of having this broad range of ages working together, but also harness the potential benefits? I’ve managed teams that included people who were brand new to the workforce right through to retirement age. For me the benefits were obvious, but there were occasional misunderstandings and challenges. Here are some points to consider when leading a multigenerational team.

  1. People are far more than their generation. While each generation may have some shared experiences, there is huge diversity within generations. Leading someone solely based on their generation is likely to lead to poor outcomes for you and them. Their goals, needs and interests are likely to be more about them as an individual than them as a member of a generation.
  2. Find out what matters to each individual. Have open discussions with your team members about their goals and what matters to them most at work. You might be surprised at what people raise during this discussion. For example, you might find younger and older team members both share an interest in flexible work arrangements, but for different reasons.
  3. Tailor to individuals and their needs where possible. Adjusting your approach and meeting the needs of your team members is really important. For example, I’ve helped people to take additional unpaid leave for an overseas trip, varied the start and end times for people that needed that flexibility, and allowed people to work from different locations. You also want to do this in a way that is fair and sustainable. Be clear with people what you can and can’t vary, and why. You don’t want to set up precedents that are difficult to undo.
  4. Build understanding and appreciation of diversity. Provide opportunities for people to work together and get to know each other. Use discussion prompts in team meetings with time set aside to build an understanding of each other. A great idea here is to ask people to share a five star recommendation - anything that they would give five stars to. This could include a book, holiday destination, activity, movie, restaurant, recipe - anything. You might be surprised at what interests people have in common.
  5. Encourage inclusion. Diverse teams only outperform other teams where there is understanding and inclusion. Encourage people to actively include and consult with others to gain their perspectives. Use the experience in your team by asking people to mentor each other. I’ve even seen mentoring work well where a younger team member might mentor an older team member on something like use of technology or social media. Don’t assume that the mentor needs to be older than the person being mentored.

Harnessing the diversity in a multigenerational team can unlock many benefits for your team and organisation. It all starts with understanding and valuing the different experiences, skills and preferences people bring. Building inclusion can help people to see multiple generations  in your team as a benefit rather than a drawback.


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