Guest blog - Generational leadership

Posted by Corporate on 03.30.2017


Jamie Cox is a commercial lines service manager with our Automotive Aftermarket Program based in the Overland Park, KS office. In her third guest blog, she's sharing thought-provoking ways to successfully manage multiple generations of workers within the same team.


Generational leadership

by Jamie Cox, commercial lines service manager, Automotive Aftermarket


Over the past couple months we have discussed how to motivate your employees, using peer to peer recognition and most recently advancing in your career.  Another topic that comes up when looking at successful leadership is tailoring your leadership style to the different generations that you manage.

The most successful teams are made up of different personalities; in my experience, it's our differences that provide the biggest impact, not the ways that we are similar.  Where you might fall short in your performance, there is another member of your team that can help you overcome that struggle. Taking that to the next level – as a leader, how do you make sure that all members of the team feel valued and important?

Communication Style

How you communicate with your employees needs to be tailored to the method that provides the biggest impact. Not everyone prefers the same communication style that you do. In today’s world of tweeting and instant messaging we have lost sight of face-to-face interaction. While one set of your employees might prefer a quick email to explain a new process, do not forget about the set of employees that would prefer face-to-face communication. 

Don’t give in to negative stereotypes  

Have you ever heard “… the younger generation is so entitled, they expect everything to be given to them” or “….well they are going to be hard to train, they are so set in their ways…”? These statements will run your team dynamic off track quicker than anything else. Do not give in to common stereotypes or perceptions of generations. Each generation has so much to offer when it comes to the success of the team. Use these differences to your advantage! Those baby boomers and Gen X employees who are “set in their ways” have a lot of knowledge. Encourage them to help pass that knowledge on to your newer employees. Your Millennials and Gen Y employees who catch on fast to changes in programs and processes can be utilized to explain the efficiencies that are gained to employees that might take longer to adapt to change. 

Performance Management  

Understanding the differences in how your employees want to receive feedback on their performance is another important piece. While some employees want to have a formal sit down meeting to discuss objectives and performance, there are others that prefer that you only have a formal sit down meeting if there is something wrong. In addition, you might see that your more tenured staff places a greater emphasis on the time spent at their desk, rather than the amount of work that is produced, when it comes to evaluating their performance. On the opposite side of the spectrum you have newer employees that base performance on the amount of work they process - not the time that it takes. As a leader you must find a common ground between these two thought processes to effectively manage your team as a whole.

Taking time to learn about and understand each of your employees on an individual basis is the first step to effectively managing different generations. Once you have taken the time to invest in your team,  you will be able to effectively use those generational traits to your advantage. Making sure that each employee understands that their input is valuable, and the role that they play in the bigger picture will set you and your team up for success in the future.

Topics: Leadership