While I was waking up this morning, I was reading an article about Generation Z. I’m guessing next it will be Generation AA, like the batteries? There is a boatload of information on how to “handle” different generations. I’m thinking back to when I wasn’t a baby-boomer and I was just a “people”. I’m guessing more mature people felt the same way about me and my generation like my current generation seems to feel about young professionals. Aren’t we just people after all?!?!
The articles are all touting about how to be a better leader versus a boss with all of these various generations. I get it that everyone is different, but by looking at someone can you really determine how they should be treated?
Listening is a key skill in working with people and being a leader. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, political affiliation, or whatever, a leader needs to listen. Some even go so far as to call it active listening. Now if you talk with my wife or children, they may share I’m not very active in my listening, but that’s a topic for another day. If you are actively listening so you can get the next word in, that doesn’t really count. Practice breathing while listening and even take a breath when you think the talker is done. Respect their listening space. You can’t learn when you are talking.
Leaders also care. Care can’t be taught. You can also “over-care” in the workplace, so finding that balance is important. The people who work with you have lives outside of the workplace and often times the interactions outside the office impact the interactions inside the office. Of course, there are legal limits to all of this, but a simple statement acknowledging that your co-worker seems distracted can go a long way toward a positive atmosphere. Show you care.
Speaking of balance, acknowledging that work-home-third place balance is important. Again, it isn’t the responsibility of the workplace to solve that issue, however, recognition of the balance is. So how can a business deal with this? I grew up in a time when people got paid by the hours they worked, or at least present in the office. Many businesses are shifting to work to get things done and maybe not even doing them in the office. So what happens in your business when somebody has a child that is sick in school and needs to get picked up early? Do they have to fill out forms and get special permission to leave or can your business adapt? I respect the fact there is not a one-size fits all solution, however, some trust and flexibility can go a long way as a leader.
My last thought about leadership is related to evaluating employees. Again the tide is shifting to more ongoing evaluations rather than the one big deal annually. Employees really deserve that and along the way, it is easier to coach staff through challenges. Imagine coaching your team once a year and then expecting them to succeed. Have that give-and-take ongoing.
So none of this type of leadership and work environment really depends on age, generation, or any other demographic factor. It depends on meeting the needs of the people in your office, within reason. That’s an important component of talent attraction. We are all people after all.