Managing different generations in the workplace
Each generation has different workplace expectations, values and working styles – and these differences can often result in conflicting ideas and opinions. As a result, there can be a level of discord in some modern workplaces – and this discord potentially results in segregated departments with separate operations, leading to miscommunication across the business and inaccurate results.
And, in an industry such as marketing, this level of miscommunication can be incredibly detrimental to the business.
Therefore, in order for an organisation to transform operations and align the generations within its workforce, it needs to understand how each generation operates, how to maximise their marketing productivity, and how to get them to work together.
What does each generation bring to a marketing business?
Regardless of the industry, there needs to be an appreciation of the fact that each generation brings a different kind of expertise, work perspective and aptitude.
Baby Boomers for example, are often those defining the strategy of the business. They are the foundation upon which the business is built and regularly impart their expertise and coach younger workers as they come into the business. In a marketing department, Baby Boomers are straight-cut, no-nonsense and market-erudite; they know the industry inside out and how it has transformed – and they establish the business goals. Ideally, the marketing knowledge Baby Boomers have accumulated over the years should be preserved and passed on to the younger generations. They are an invaluable source of expertise and it should be utilised wherever possible.
Then we have Generation Xers. Generation X possesses most of your business’ modern intellectual capital – that is, current knowledge about how the business and marketing industry operates. Gen Xers are more in-touch with modern marketing initiatives and are the ones transforming the business’ marketing and general strategy from the inside out. They are also, arguably, the most resolute of the generations and the least likely to complain about difficult times.
Adaptable and resourceful, Gen Xers will continuously refine the business’ approach to remain competitive in the current marketing landscape. Of course, their ambitions are supported by the sagacity and erudition of their direct superiors (Baby Boomers).
To get the most out of Gen Xers in the marketing department, allow them to take charge of operations, think creatively and impart their knowledge. As the business’ Baby Boomers begin to retire, Gen X will take over all of the business’ intellectual capital. Their ability to continually move forward undeterred will help businesses to scale their marketing operations and inspire everyone across the organisation.
Next, Millennials. Millennials are the original digital natives; their technological capabilities enable them to use most devices, social media is a key component in their day-to-day lives, and multi-tasking comes easily to them.
In a marketing department, Millennials are those most up-to-date with new marketing trends in the industry – and have a great understanding of current marketing practices. Their desire to continuously improve marks them as the most progressive and information hungry generation in the business. While not as industry erudite as their elders, they make up for that through their skill with modern technology, hardware and software.
If you want to make the most out of Millennial employees in a marketing environment, give them the opportunity to take the reins on smaller clients after your more senior employees have set the foundation. You’ll see how quickly they rise to the challenge!
Lastly, Generation Z, the post-Millennials. Born between 1995 and 2012, Generation Z are far more technologically capable than most Millennials – and have grown up in a world truly immersed in technology. Generation Z are the next generation of your workforce, the new employees so to speak, and will be without a doubt, the business’ most tech savvy.
In many respects, Generation Z embody the best aspects of each generation, they are digitally savvy, entrepreneurial, hardworking and keen to progress. Therefore, to get the most out of Gen Z in your marketing department, you need to provide them with frequent learning opportunities and the right marketing tools to drive productivity.
Getting each generation to work together
No generational change is ever seamless. As new generations enter the workplace, processes and structures may need to be changed to accommodate them. However, instead of altering the workplace structure, businesses should first look to the development of their new people first – and then, if growing pains become evident, build new processes around them.
It’s not about disrupting and overhauling the workplace structure from the offset, but rather augmenting it as new talent enters the workplace and providing the necessary resources new employees need to be successful.
In terms of getting each generation to collaborate effectively and streamline your marketing operations, pair up different generations and allow them to discuss how they would approach a marketing problem. The idea is that you leverage their different perspectives and abilities to complement each other and achieve much more. This way your business benefits from the expertise of both generations, while they can educate each other to enable further improvement.
For example, while a Baby Boomer would have extensive experience in discussing marketing campaigns and the individual elements that need to be created, they may not undertake the day to day activities required to achieve the marketing goals. Whereas, while a Millennial may have the necessary knowledge of tools and software that enables them to create those campaigns, they may not necessarily know how to build a campaign plan.
The difference is that Baby Boomers, possessing most of the business’ intellectual capital, generally manage the more operational activities of the marketing campaign, including client engagement, campaign planning and ongoing consulting. Millennials on the other hand, are far more technically inclined, and know exactly how to create those campaigns with the right marketing programs. By bringing different generations together, they can learn from each other and develop – streamlining the marketing process and maximising your marketing team’s productivity.Ultimately, it’s not about building your marketing activity around one single generation and their ability to help the business, but rather combining each generation’s expertise to do more in considerably less time, all while expanding the knowledge of every generation by encouraging them to work together.