One is tech savvy. Another is known to be exceptional at problem-solving and the other holds a wealth of knowledge. Generations in the workplace.

Some would welcome the diversity. Others resent the challenges that arise due to the generational differences.

It is fair to say that almost anyone employed in a reasonably-sized organisation today bears witness to the vast differences in work behaviour, communication and expectations for these groups. Like the joke that sums the work expectations of  a millennial … “Looking for a summer job … as a CEO?”

This infographic by UXC Professional Solutions. paints an insightful picture of the current workplace environment.

The dilemma

The complexity of the workplace is becoming more pronounced with five generations working alongside each other … for the first time in history.

Let’s unpack this a little further and concentrate on the three main players in this game: Baby boomers who are retiring. Gen X who are peaking and Millennials who are our immediate future.

Think about how we effectively transfer the strengths of each generation to boost their counterparts’ weaknesses – and enhance the organisation’s overall effectiveness and create a winning culture?

Take this example: How could a baby boomers’ “boardroom presence” rub off on a “tech savvy Google geek” – and vice versa?

Don’t negate the importance of structure

The answer, I believe, is not that difficult. It boils down to a few fundamental principles – all three generations need to be regularly engaged in a non-threatening, constructive, transparent, accountable and structured manner.  

The diagram below helps unpack the today’s reality. Does anything look amiss?

I have a major concern with this mercurial future where we need to create work environment in which all can strive.

The answer to this complexity is about structure.

In the past – and I’m not advocating at all that it is correct – pretty much everything was structured. Working times. Location.  Company hierarchy …  Everything was structured.

The future is the absolute epitome of flexibility.

Currently, a large amount of order or ”structure” is either legacy in organisations or coming from the older generations … their “executive presence”

In my line of work as an “operations consultant”, I regularly engage with clients whose organisations have the most extraordinary talent and competencies – but are in terrible trouble because they are simply not structured!

Mercury management

Unless there is a purpose, understanding, decision-making, time-based activity and accountability – in other words – structure, you lose efficiency.

All too often – everybody’s involved but nobody’s in charge!

This is what I call “mercury management” – you can see and feel it, and it’s heavy – it’s all there in one place – until you try and put your finger on it.  Then it shatters and disperses in numerous directions!

The solution

The questions we need to answer are how do we:

  • Close the gap and transfer skills and knowledge between the generations – in both directions?
  • Harness the youthful enthusiasm and modern skill set to the benefit of the organisation?

Consider the following the solution

  • Use modern technology, familiar to the youngsters, as an enabling platform to engage at all levels, so that the right people have timeous, necessary conversations, and use relevant information.
  • Make appropriate decisions, capture actions and minutes and meet regularly with short feedback loops.
  • Maintain accountability in a standardised, efficient and transparent manner – which results in superior sustained business results.

Ultimately, engage your employees, young and old, within a structured technology-driven system so that they can all participate in a meaningful manner – and drive a winning culture!

If you would like to chat to us about how we can help you develop a winning culture, contact us on email  or call us on 087 951 0961.