Management & Organization

How to manage people from different generations

Managing different generations is caused by the fact that in the future there will be fewer young people and that young people’s qualities will be attractive. The call to company executives is therefore that it's important to motivate, attract and maintain young talent in the companies to ensure a successful future.

By Soulaima Gourani

Today there are fewer years between generations than there used to be, when there was an entire life between generations; our mother’s, grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s generation. In the future there might only be 5 to 10 years between generations, since development is happening much faster now.

In the future, Business owners and managers will have up to five generations employed at the same time. That's why the rules that govern businesses today will be outdated as future generations enter the companies. If you choose to ignore the needs and demands of younger generations and keep doing what you have always done because it works, you enter a future of uncertainty.

Young people want to be involved, and you must release their involvement, passion and talent in order create a successful future. It is not just a structural challenge of including the young, it is also a challenge to satisfy future customers and decode their needs.

Young people of the future build relationships and break down barriers between people

Young people have the ability to attract, gather, coordinate and acquire qualities. This means a faster and much more efficient execution of assignments. A company can only survive if new knowledge is continuingly added to the organization.

Young people are very good at building relationships, creating networks and contacting people they don't know. They break down barriers between people in a natural way, and this is an ability that the older generation does wave, in the same natural way.

Members the younger generations have been brought up in online communities, where it is perfectly normal to comment and intervene – express their opinion without being asked. The relationships and the trust they generate is important to companies.

You have to create a balance between the experience that is already present in the company and young peoples' expectations for the future. They ask questions, they are selective and they raise demands of their surroundings, and that fact that they are young is itself a quality. They don't have the experience that already lies with the employees of the company, and therefore it is important to have a balance between the young (the accelerator) and the old (the brake) employees – they must complement each other and create a balance so that every resource is used optimally.

Involvement, more than anything

As a customer group the youth of the future will find your product or service is interesting, if there is a possibility of involvement in the design. They want to add their own touch to the things they buy, and the same applies for young employees. They want to be involved and add their own touch to projects – and they are good at it.

When you involve young people in the company and make them feel at home, management has to be brave enough to meet the challenges. Look at the structure of the organization – who sits where? Young people feel a need to be able to identify with the company, and this requires a divergence from the traditional choice of employees.

We hire people who resemble ourselves, and that way we get more of the same, and as a leader you have to try avoiding the recognizable and instead choose the untraditional. Hire young employees for critical positions that influence the company’s future success and give them co-responsibility.

The way you communicate in your company also change in the future, since young people don't read emails, which is the preferred communicational platform in companies today. The challenge is to find a way of communicating that targets young people and also address the old.

Create advisory boards and invite young people to assess your products and services before launching. Dare to listen to the young and making decisions based on their knowledge and beliefs.

How to get started

  • Look at the structure of the organization – where do you have room for young employees?

  • Have the courage to hire a young person and avoid the recognizable.

  • Hire young men and women for critical positions and give them co-responsibility.

  • Find new ways of communicating that are adapted to a younger audience.

  • Create advisory boards and invite young people to express their opinion.

  • Listen to young people, instead of trying to educate them.