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Managing Different Generations: Motivating to Engage

Managing Different Generations: Motivating to Engage

Engaged employees go the extra mile to bring projects in on time and below cost, while doing their best to problem solve and ensure consistent quality. These are the things that bring your customers back again and again to ensure that your business keeps running.

While everyone wants to feel motivated to do good work by fun on the job, different generations tend to be motivated by different things. Adding just a touch of generation-based motivation can be the spice that stirs up the pot to greatness.

Traditionalists – are often motivated by having a job in and of itself. It gives them structure and permission to continue to have fun with other people. Many Traditionalists are motivated by feeling that they are contributing to a legacy, be that to their own or their company’s. Reward them by offering a formal letter acknowledging the success of their efforts and don’t be afraid of making their success public.

Boomers – will typically value opportunities for professional development and the prestige of their work. Emphasize both in the work environment and recognize their contributions to the same. Give Boomers the chance to continue to learn on the job and work with them to develop their career paths. For some, that might include a career that goes beyond your company, while for others the intent will be to stay as long as possible. Participating in professional groups and organizations can also be a great motivator. Boomers often focus on their benefits and retirement packages, so pay close attention to what you can offer them and help them to make the most of it.

Generation X – 8 am and 5 pm seat sweeps to check if everyone is present and accounted for serves as one of the deadliest of actions when it comes to Generation X:ers. Instead, focus on rewards for results that show how much value you place on getting the actual job done and done well, not how much time is spent doing it. Offer rewards more frequently, such as quarterly bonuses and opportunities to develop transferable skills. Alternative and flexible work forms also serve as great motivator boosts, so consider flextime and telecommuting as part of your work options.

Millennials or Generation Y – are more than any other generation motivated by knowing how they are contributing to the bigger picture, even if all that they do is make copies. They like to be included in important meetings and to get face time with higher ups when possible. Give them the opportunity and prepare them for how you want them to interact and the extent to which they are welcome to participate. Millennials are also motivated by transparent metrics and far more frequent rewards and recognition than most workplaces are accustomed to. Token gift cards and a quick note or word of acknowledgement will go a long way with this group!

In addition to targeting generations, don’t forget to bring everyone together every now and then to celebrate your accomplishments. Serving treats and acknowledging individual as well as group efforts is a great way to bring intergenerational teams together and appreciate each other even more.

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About Dr. Annika Hylmö

Dr. Annika Hylmö is an Organizational Strategy Consultant and Executive and Leadership Coach with The Insight Generation. Annika has a Ph.D. in Organizational Communication and a M.A. in International Communication. She can be contacted at info@insightgeneration.com

View all posts by Dr. Annika Hylmö →

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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