Much has been written with regards to the changing face of the workplace. With the replacement of Boomers (born before 1964) by Millennials (1977 – 1995), new challenges are being presented as to how best manage and lead this seemingly more complex collective. Part of the challenge is the fact that many of the leaders and managers are in fact Boomers and those reporting to them are Millennials, so there is an obvious disconnect between “old and new”. To better understand this, it might be helpful to trace back a little into the past and assess these characteristics chronologically, under these changing circumstances.
1940 – 1970
This was an era characterized by motivation through money and/or fear (carrot and stick), and because it was primarily during the industrial age, when any advancement in productivity was king, it worked pretty well. It also fed off the basis that you left your brain at the door, as it was more about a physical contribution.
1970 – 2000
As the landscape of business began to shift from industrial to informational so too did the need to move from physical to intellectual labor. People were now expected to use their brain as the need for more educated workers emerged. With that the old carrot and stick became much less effective, and leadership had to adapt to a system of involvement, support and truly understanding what motivated people.
2000 – Today
Most recently, a newer workforce has emerged, that not alone is intellectually based (better educated overall), but is also influenced by technology and a very different world view. These employees want engagement and challenge within a creative process and consequently leadership has had to redefine itself once again. Leaders have had to become coaches and have the ability to skillfully guide people and help facilitate an outcome.
So, if you are a leader, you are most likely dealing with different workforce generations. Rather than feel exasperated and helpless that “these people” just don’t get it, embrace it and adapt accordingly, which will allow you to get the best from everybody.