While managing multi-generational employees in the workplace presents the challenges discussed in last month’s piece, it also offers opportunities to evolve and improve on a number of levels. Rather than dividing the generations on their differences, bring them together to augment their strengths.
Harness the power of a multi-generational mix of employees by assembling them into functional teams across your organization. This structure allows for a variety of generations to have representation, increasing the team’s collective experience, skillset, and output.
At the Alias Group, the organizational structure is a relatively flat, team-based matrix. Each employee is assigned to a functional team that corresponds with their primary job function (such as sales, marketing, or customer service), as well as business teams that correspond to the product lines that they work with. The teams all have a mix of generations/experience levels working toward common team goals. Unlike other companies, we don't use age to determine job effectiveness. Our customer service team might be led by a recent college graduate, while our sales team looks to a Baby Boomer on the cusp of retirement, and both will have to work closely together to best support the company at large.
Employees are also encouraged to join voluntary teams based on their interests. These teams include wellness, customer experience, community service, corporate culture, and employee development. It's a cross-generational pollination of experience, skills, energy, and perspective that produces high-quality, high impact results. Results are numerous and significant.
First, these voluntary teams are self-managed, meaning the teams’ charters, goals, and objectives are developed and executed within the team. That's allows individuals to work together toward a common personal goal regardless of their age or experience and brings together employees who may not work together on a day-to-day basis.
Second, since the teams are self-managed, they have rotating leaders who organize meetings, take notes, and assign tasks for follow-up. The rotation provides an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, initiative, or innovation for people who might not otherwise have it. In essence, it is a breeding ground to develop future leaders where we can find out who has the talent and drive to keep us competitive.
Finally, the widespread impact of the teams positively affects the company, employees, and community. Employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention are all increased because they're able to contribute to something they're personally interested in and they feel that they have a say in the direction of the company. Often, the output of the teams is more creative and involves events the company wouldn’t have done otherwise. In a different company, this kind of planning and execution rest on the shoulders of upper management, and, by the nature of running a small business, has to shift the planning to the bottom of a long list of responsibilities.
Another team we have is The Alias Group’s Employee Development Team. This team impact the course of the company is through the creation of a career path for each job. The paths allow motivated individuals know exactly what they have to develop, do, and be to step into a role they desire. The team is comprised of about ten employees of various ages and experience levels and combines the drive and creativity of the millennial with experience and perspective of the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to form a comprehensive career path. Not too long ago and through their own initiative, they created a new Mentor Program, which further eliminates the generation gap.
When all generations participate, the company, culture, and individuals win.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Patterson is the President and CEO of The Alias Group, a company devoted to helping businesses grow through inside sales and digital marketing. The company has been active for more than 25 years and works to bring customized, individual sales and marketing solutions to clients and continues to emphasize growth on both sides of their company/client relationship.
He got his start by building on the successes of his father's sales and distribution company, expanding into more aspects of industrial sales and adding an entire marketing division. As the company grew, the sales and marketing services evolved into a new brand: The Alias Group. The company underwent significant improvements as it grew. The facility, technology, corporate structure, and culture evolved; internally, The Alias Group refined to a team structure, instituted an open PTO plan, and actively applied The Alias Group's core values: Unique Focus, Genuine Connection, and Deliver More.
Mike is dedicated to the company's work and steady expansion, but when he is away from the office, he’s enjoying travel, visiting Dewey beach with his wife and three sons, or spending time on the sidelines of sporting events (whether they are those of his sons or The Ravens).