How Executives Lead: Finding Three, Four or Five Generations Working Side-by-Side

Imagine… for the first time in history we’re finding three, four or five generations working side-by-side.

Generational differences at work create fantastic opportunities that are critical to sustained peak performance and reduced workplace turnover. Yet morale issues, productivity and financial setbacks are rising from the different generational goals, experiences and communication styles.

Managing a team with diverse personalities, responsibilities, ambitions and expectations can seem overwhelming – yet this diversity is an amazing competitive advantage for your business.

Organizations that embrace generational differences are able to cultivate a great employee/employer working relationship by helping employees at all levels focus on shared objectives as they motivate, mentor and even rely on each other from a perspective of collaboration. When different generations cooperate there are more opportunities to experience high-impact change with low economic and emotional risk.

Gen Z – Millennial – Gen X – Boomer – Traditionalist

Hire The Right People: Share The Company Vision

With the high cost of hiring and training new talent, companies cannot afford to lose employees after only 1 or 2 years. And while Gen X and Boomers will often stay longer, we see from experience that even with high unemployment levels, Millennials and now Gen Z seem ever ready to quit in search of greener pastures.

The best first step to increase employee retention, satisfaction, productivity and multigenerational collaboration is to hire the right people. Don’t hire the people you like… that is old-school. Teach everyone who are responsible for hiring a formal interview process like Behaviour Event Interview (BEI Training), so your leaders can hire the people with the right skills AND those who are the best cultural fit.

Once you hire the right person then treat them well. Happy employees will be more productive and treat your customers well. Share the company vision, provide clear direction and expectations, then measure results and expectations regularly. Do not wait for quarterly or especially annual reviews…. things are moving far too quickly for that. In many cases weekly project reviews are quite valuable.

Help Different Generations Recognize Each Others Strengths: Everyone Is Valuable

Whether you are an owner or you are working your first job, you are valuable or you would not be there. What is important to realize is that everyone has a unique set of experiences and skills; all are great and all are required. This is where collaborative teams are important.

When you work in a collaborative team it’s imperative that everyone understands the project objectives. In addition, everyone within the collaborative team is there for a reason – either because of his or her expertise and/or experience. The goal is for members of a collaborative team to support each other AND the project in order to achieve the project objectives.

For example: Millennials are often technologically proficient but they may have only a few years work experience. Boomers have lots of work experience but may be challenged with technology and social media. A collaborative team Leader can support and encourage multigenerational mentoring and collaborative teams by helping each member recognize the others strength and not feel threatened.

Reward & Motivation

In the last 40 years our choices of how we live, work and learn have increased exponentially. Some traditionalists are embracing technology. Others – like my mother refuse to have a computer in the house or a mobile phone.

It’s important to look beyond generational and cultural stereotypes and to ask each employee what they want. Are they looking for job security, money, to learn (which might include additional training/education), workplace flexibility and/or the opportunity to be creative or to travel?Bruce Mayhew on Global TV discussing Millennials

Different people from the same generation and cultural background will want different things. If you know what employees want – you will be able to motivate and reward them properly. For example, a salaried employee who loves to travel may be thrilled to work an extra ½ hour each day as this would add up to between 2 and 3 weeks of additional time off each year. As I mention in my interview on Global television, this may be far more motivating to them than a bigger bonus (which they will lose half of in taxes), and financially less expensive for the company… a Win-Win.

Don’t assume you already know how to motivate employees who are older or younger — ask them and then develop incentive plans that reflect your employees.

As I write in my articleTrain Employees Well Enough So They Can Leavewhen you make employees feel valued and respected they will be loyal. Your employees will work hard AND they will not want to leave because their personal and career needs are being met.


Employees from every generation are changing rapidly. Lets learn to step back and work with and for each other.

Happy Hiring, Keeping and Motivating Employees. 

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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