By Amanda Gome
Next week Amanda Gome speaks at VECCI’s HR Breakfast on the challenges – and opportunities – of managing employees across different generations. In this guest blog post, the founder of SmartCompany.com.au explains some useful strategies that can be used to successfully manage older and younger workers.
I love working with journalists. And sales staff. Yes, they can be a difficult to manage at times. Throw in a wide disparity in age and outlook and you can have a real challenge on your hands.
But as a leader and entrepreneur, I became aware of the powerful influence I had on motivating staff. And I realised I needed to take a different psychological approach to motivating younger staff and older workers.
The older workers were actually more of a challenge. They grew up in a time of rapid economic growth. Many grew up in work silos: a long time in one job means you don’t need to think laterally a lot of the time.
What I noticed was this: older workers liked – and were very good at – working on a collective task (don’t mention the word team). But the individual wanted to be the ‘hero’ and receive the recognition.
Think about it. That’s the way the hierarchy used to work. These ‘heroes’ progressed rung by rung, up the one ladder, forming private networks and trading inside information (the boys’ club) in order to further their own careers.
Meanwhile young workers grew up with the democratisation of knowledge. These digital natives can get access to a lot of information without needing to be part of the private leakage networks.
Their power comes from signalling to their managers what’s next. I noticed that my young staff really identified with their team and from linking with a horizontal network.
The approach I then took was to advise my managers to segment out tasks for older workers and make sure we celebrated their success as the individual. “Well done you!” is the phrase to use with them. Part of that celebration included building their physical status. For example they get more space around their desk and maybe even a larger desk.
For younger staff? They don’t care if they have to perch their notebook on their knees. They want the latest technology because after all, that is their link to power. They want their own patch but to celebrate as part of the team. They want to be part of a winning circle. “Well done team,” is the phrase to use with younger staff.
The VECCI HR Breakfast with Amanda Gome takes place on Thursday 4 October from 7.30am at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne. Visit our website to book your spot at this event.