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We all have Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials in our workplace. You’re lucky if you manage or lead these generations on a team. It’s a great opportunity to become an expert in motivating across generations. If you engage and motivate them all the same, you’re not taking into account they tend to be motivated by different things and styles.

One of the most rewarding aspects I’ve found leading Millennials on and off the court was watching them come in as knuckleheads and then graduate as strong, confident battle tested people. Over the course of my tenure working with Millennials it was frustrating, rewarding, fun, enlightening and stressful, but I learned as much from them as they learned from me. I had to learn quick because my job depended on 18-23 year olds.

I didn’t get it 7 years ago. I really didn’t. I thought this generation was spoiled, they had all the answers and their parents did everything for them. This is true, but I had to get them to perform at a very high level as individuals and as a team. This was a new and challenging generation.

What I did learn was to engage and embrace each of them. I took time to learn about them as people, how they communicate, how they work best, what they cared about, what music they like, and what emojis they like to use. After engaging each one, I had them. I got it!

The frustrations I hear from my clients and the phone calls I receive from CEO’s, leaders, managers, and senior level leaders are frustrated and do not understand this generation. Embrace them and you’ll learn a lot and have fun! I’m an expert motivating people and teams across generations. I consult leaders and companies in coaching and advise them with these challenges. They want to have fun, drive results, learn how to develop and retain them.

Be open to reverse learning and collaborating. Take a step back and look around. Are your employees engaged, are they leaving your company, and are you having fun? Years ago I approached this generation like corporate America is today – confused and frustrated.

If you don’t get it, 36% of the workplace is Millennials today, in five years it will 50% and in 10 years 75%. You’ll need to figure this out soon.

There are many ways to motivate and engage across generations – here are 5 simple tips:

  • Be authentic and take a genuine interest – in their goals and interests. Take time to build relationships and they will be loyal. Be open and honest.
  • Listen – listen to their ideas, opinions and thoughts. They have crazy ideas, but innovative and creative. They think, communicate and build relationships different. You may not use any of their ideas, but you’ll learn a lot about the way they think and what is important to them.
  • Collaborate – this generation craves collaboration and teamwork. Allow them to work in unstructured environments on projects and on teams. Make them feel like a valued part of your organization – if not, you won’t retain them.
  • Provide feedback constantly – positive and constructive. They want instant feedback, instant gratification, texts, and emails. Create a culture where feedback is welcomed and valued.
  • Have fun – This generation is not in the command and control environmentThey do not need managers, but leaders who will connect with their strengths and abilities. They favor development and training through support.

We all have staffs made up of various generations. My staff looked like this: 51, 57, 40, 27, 25, 24, 26, 35, and 62 years old. I was leading, managing and motivating across generations. Did I motivate and manage them all the same? No. Engage and motivate your people and teams in different ways. Everyone has different preferences and tendencies in the workplace. The more agile you are as a leader, the more effective you’ll be in the workplace.

If you don’t motivate and engage differently across generations – you don’t get it. Once I realized that I can learn a lot from them, I had more fun and this created a culture of transparency. I became a better leader and manager.

I have real experience in motivating across generations at a very high level in a highly visible role for almost three decades. It is imperative to learn to embrace and engage across generations. Very soon 50% of your organization will be Millennials.

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