The benefits of effective multi-generational leadership

Written by
Changeboard Team

24 Feb 2015

24 Feb 2015 • by Changeboard Team

Shifting demographics

The considerable shift of age demographic in the workplace means that businesses need to ensure their management is equipped to cope with this change effectively.

But should managers change their style to accommodate the multi-generational workplace or should staff learn to adapt? Our research found more than one in three employees (39%) agreed it was important for managers to change their style, as they felt different employee ages would be more responsive as a result. However, the disconnect is that, of the managers not adapting their style for different aged employees, almost half (46%) say they don’t need to as they are confident in their management skills, regardless of age differences in the team. Therefore, managers seem to be operating business as usual, but staff say they’d be better off tailoring their management styles. This could mean managers are missing out on developing talent by taking the same approach to all ages.

Developing talent

Employers also need to recognise that, as we are all working longer and more than ever, talent continually needs to be developed across all age ranges. Employers may risk overlooking the experience older workers can offer younger colleagues, for example. With all the years of knowledgeaccrued, older workers could serve as excellent mentors for younger colleagues if they wanted such a role. Similarly, employers would benefit from such a skills exchange as mentoring can be useful to teach future managers the ropes.

Businesses need to be mindful of unconscious biases too. Providing one-to-one coaching and feedback on their management styles can help address this. One-to-one coaching helps people work through biases they may hold. Coaching can help managers to listen to employees more effectively making them feel more engaged in turn. Equipping managers with the right skills will make them feel more comfortable adapting their style, dependent on who they’re dealing with. 

Effective management

Recently we have seen research from the CEB Global Labour Market Survey stating that one-third of employees would switch jobs today if they knew they were going to work for a better manager. The bottom line is, your best talent will leave your organisation if they feel they are not being managed effectively and listened to.

If managers have the skills to do this, it will make a difference to productivity and give businesses competitive advantage for years. Staff are becoming more prone to voting with their feet if they don’t feel adequately supported and employers must be aware of this. Businesses can help retain talent by giving management the skills they need.