Randstad Canada News Room

Mastering the Intergenerational Manager/Employee Tango

Posted by Dayana Fraser on Tue, Dec 13, 2011 @ 08:00 AM

TORONTO, December 13, 2011 – As a greater number of Baby Boomers delay retirement and remain in the workplace past the traditional retirement age, it will become increasingly common to find older, more experienced workers reporting to significantly younger managers.

Leandra Harris, Senior Executive Vice President of HR, Randstad Canada says each generation has its own set of values, ideas and styles and these differences can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and, occasionally, conflict. “In certain cases baby boomers may have different expectations from their Gen X or Gen Y colleagues, but there's no reason they can't all get along,” she adds.

Different generations offer equally important contributions to the workplace.”Taking the time to learn about the different generations is crucial for fostering a harmonious and productive workplace. All generations view the world differently, but we all have valuable contributions to offer the workforce," says Harris.

The following tips will help each side feel heard, appreciated and understood and allow both sides to foster better communication within an age-diverse workplace.

Advice for Gen Ys managing Boomers:

• Give the older employee time to adjust. Working for a younger boss can be a difficult transition for some, especially if they feel they are more qualified than the person they are working for. It may take some time for others to see you as a competent leader. 
• Remember that you are young, with less years of experience. Prove yourself without showing off. Suggest, don’t tell. Ask for help in creating shared solutions. 
• Gather input from more experienced workers. Regardless of age, people like to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution. Seek the opinion of those who have been around the block and then where appropriate, incorporate their suggestions into your plans. 
• Don’t make assumptions based on age. For instance, some young professionals assume that anyone old enough to be their parent doesn’t know their way around technology, but there are a lot of tech savvy Baby Boomers out there. 
• Get to know each person on your team. You can learn something from each person on the team.

Advice for Boomers reporting to Gen Ys:

• Give your boss a chance. You both work for the same company and likely have common goals within the workplace. 
• Continue developing your skills. If you don’t feel confident about a particular skill, ask for more training. Where you do have proficiencies, don’t be shy about letting your boss know. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with the latest technical and business skills. Besides, after you retire, they may come in handy. 
• Respect your differences. For example, as a Boomer, you probably prefer face-to-face communication, with phone conversations coming in a close second. But with the prevalence of smart devices and instant communication tools, it’s likely your young boss prefers electronic communication over face to face. It’s important to respect the fact that you will sometimes see things differently and if need be, suggest a compromise. 
• Set out clear expectations. Have a conversation with your boss about their expectations of you, and indentify what your expectations are in return. The discussion that follows will help foster a mutual understanding of your needs as an employee as well as their need to fulfill their corporate mandate.
• Stay positive. You want to be seen as an innovative, positive contributor within the organization.

According to Harris each generation has made its contributions to the workforce and it’s up to the employer to make sure employees are trained to deal with these sensitive issues. "It takes a certain sensitivity to refrain from making broad brush strokes and assumptions that what’s good for one member of the team is good for everyone when, in fact, the very opposite is true. Become a company that values difference. Find a way to harness that energy,” she says. “Understand that there are fiscal benefits to harnessing the energy from a vibrant, robust multigenerational workforce.”


About Randstad Canada: Randstad Canada is the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services. As the only fully integrated staffing company in the country, we understand the recruitment needs and demands of employers and job seekers across all levels and industries. Through our insightful knowledge of local markets, employment trends and global network of recruitment experts, we are shaping the Canadian world of work. Visit randstad.ca

Randstad Canada anticipates tremendous growth in 2011 and is seeking top talent to fill positions in nearly every area of the business. Visithttp://www.randstad.ca/about/internal_careers.aspx for internal job openings and to learn more about why Randstad is one of the best places to work.


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