The four generations at work


Most company clients want me to provide ideas on how teams should collaborate and work together. While platitudes and displayed posters declare the need for teamwork, trainers dish out old, worn-out cliches like: “It takes teamwork to make the dream work,” etc. All these initiatives do not seem to work well. What is needed is to study the dynamics of a multigenerational workforce working together.

Here is what teamwork looks like. In team meetings, the millennials and Gen Z employees advocated using cutting-edge project management software. The Gen Xers and boomers exchanged confused glances, reminiscing about the days when a simple whiteboard was all they needed. Eventually, they compromised whiteboards for brainstorming and software for execution. Here is another scenario.

The boss hosted a potluck lunch that would foster camaraderie. The millennials brought avocado toast, the Gen Zers brought vegan sushi, the Gen Xers arrived with classic comfort food, and the boomers proudly presented their famous meatloaf. Here is a prominent display of generation, culinary, and tech gaps that leaders need to patch to achieve teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.

Four generations can inhabit today’s workplaces.

Boomers were born between the 1940s and the early 1960s. Many of these today are either founders of the business or chairpersons of the board, or they are brought in as consultants.

Gen X, born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, usually occupy a more senior management position; some may be on the verge of retirement.

Millennials were born between the mid-1980s and the mid-late 1990s, and while this generation forms the majority of the workforce, many are poised and are in strategic leadership positions.

Gen Z was born in the late 1990s, and while many of them are in entry levels of employment (except for specific sensitive tech works), they will comprise at least 30 percent of the significant workforce within the next five years.

While Gen-Zers were born with an iPad in hand, millennials hail from an era where computers were the primary tool for productivity. In many business organizations and institutions, I have observed that many Gen-Xers and boomers prefer phone calls, much to the frustration of many.

Mastering these differences is pivotal in fostering a healthy and collaborative environment for managers. However, you can enhance team efficiency by capitalizing on each generation’s strengths, from Gen Z’s digital fluency to boomers’ adept communication skills.

Managers need to be aware that they may have to oversee individuals who could be their parents or grandparents, alongside colleagues younger than their children. The more senior-positioned leaders, including the founders, should understand the diverse preferences in a multigenerational workforce, some favoring traditional work structures while others seeking flexibility.

Boomers and Gen Xers may prioritize constant availability and in-office work, while millennials and Gen Z prioritize work-life balance and remote capabilities. Additionally, differing communication styles pose a challenge, with each generation comfortable with distinct technologies and vocabularies.

But all these are not beyond hope. This would be a good start if the leaders knew each generation’s unique characteristics.

Here are some ideas on how to navigate a multigenerational workplace effectively.

Communicate and connect

Customize communication to connect with individuals of all age groups. Tailor communication to resonate with all generations. Avoid jargon, cliches, motherhood statements, slang, or street language exclusive to specific age groups. Establish common ground to ensure inclusivity in general communications.

Leverage diverse communication platforms

Recognize and accommodate varying preferences for communication mediums, whether digital platforms or face-to-face interactions.

Enable exchange of knowledge

Establish mentorship programs to foster knowledge sharing, drawing on the skills and experiences of both junior and senior staff members.

Acknowledge individual strengths

Embrace the vast array of skills and talents present among different age groups. Utilize the diversity of skills and talents across generations, leveraging each individual’s strengths to drive productivity and innovation.

Open and offer career development opportunities

This may mean more work for our friends from HR departments, but it is an effective talent retention tool. Provide comprehensive career development plans tailored to accommodate the aspirations of all employees, fostering a sense of support and satisfaction.

Challenge stereotyping and perceptions

Do not accept sweeping assumptions about generational traits and foster individual understanding. Address biases and assumptions regarding younger generations’ work ethic or adaptability, encouraging a nuanced understanding of unique capabilities and preferences.

It’s no surprise that when I shared insights on comprehending and leading across generational mindsets during my Level Up Leadership seminars, attendees affirmed that the knowledge gained would aid in understanding and guiding their teams and parenting their kids. That’s an extra take-home bonus they get from the seminar. And I don’t charge them extra.



(Mark your calendar for May 15, 2024, for Level Up Leadership—The Next Edge at One Ayala, Makati! Explore personal development, business growth and adapting to disruption. Register now to secure your spot! Contact April at 0928-559-1798, Savee at 0917-533-6817, or visit www.levelupleadership.ph. Limited seats available!)

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