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Generational Leadership: A New Dimension of Diversity

The Generational Leadership of the workforce has changed significantly in the last 10 years. Today, more generations work together in single workplaces, and they have greater disparities than ever before. The workforce will continue to have dramatic shifts in age over the next 5-10 years. There is a new generation entering the workforce, and the experienced generation is leaving to pursue retirement and other employment that suits their lifestyles.

Understanding generational issues can lead to wider recognition of variables that impact all facets of the organization. As project managers responsible for recruiting, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, managing, and maintaining and increasing productivity, what do these generational differences mean to us? And how can we use them to maximize organizational effectiveness?

For our purposes today, we will focus on communication, a key success factor in any project. Extensive research within a wide variety of organizations has revealed that employee miscommunication as a result of generational differences are present within all organizations. For example, Gen-X and Gen-Y members of the team who have had different life experiences and communicate with people differently may fail to actively listen to Boomers and traditionalists, resulting in missing valuable information and guidance.

Project managers can minimize miscommunication caused by generational differences using some of the following strategies:

  • Conduct generational information awareness/sharing sessions as a part of diversity training. Having a solid understanding of other generations is critical and should not be assumed to exist. A good way to get people to work together across the generations is to provide them with an opportunity to educate each other about each generation’s own history, characteristics, milestone events, culture, language, and norms.
  • Conduct a generational inventory of the project team and key stakeholders that looks at the team’s generational mix, age profile, and the generational issues on the team. It is important that every employee is held to the same work expectations, organizational policies, and procedures, yet managers should also consider individual employee needs and generational differences.
  • Expand your communication strategies. Most project teams rely too heavily on one strategy for communication. By making the same message available in multiple formats you’ll ensure that you reach all workers.

By using these strategies and more, project managers can develop better workplace communication, overcome conflict due to generational differences in the workplace, develop more understanding, and improve collaborative work efforts and multi-generation team performance.

Is your team multi-generational? How do you keep everyone enthusiastic and involved?

Vicki Wrona will be presenting a free webinar with ITMPI on this subject on December 1! Sign up here: Managing Multi-Generational Teams

About Kathy Martucci

Kathy Martucci, PMP, has over 20 years of business analysis and project management experience in both the private and public sectors. Her clients include major healthcare firms, government entities and retirement systems. Ms. Martucci has been responsible for requirements gathering, tracking and tracing for small to large, highly complex systems. Her accomplishments include premiering thermal technology to print on-demand tickets for the NYS Thruway and directing five PeopleSoft implementations over the last twelve years.

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