With four generations now in the workforce, and one more joining soon, understanding how to manage a multigenerational workforce has become more important than ever. Each generation ticks a little differently. All groups have preferred ways of communicating, learning, and receiving feedback, which makes managing a workforce comprised of multiple generations a challenge to say the least.
Aimee J. Phillips, Clinical Educator at Marietta Memorial Hospital School of Radiologic Technology, believes that no generation is right or wrong; they are just different. But by understanding the characteristics of the different generations, managers are better able to make the most of daily interactions with their healthcare staff.
In a recent Investing In You webinar sponsored by our partner company, Cassling, Aimee discussed how generations are defined and how to communicate better with all healthcare staff.
Defining a Generation
The first step of managing a multigenerational team is to take the time to understand the generations present on your team. Each generation is shaped by the time frame, characteristics, life experiences, and historical events that occurred while they were growing up. Developing an understanding of each generational group and how they generally think and interact in the workforce will help you approach every work situation more prepared. Everyone wants to provide excellent patient care and do the best for the department. It is just that everyone has a different way of getting there. Managers who understand this and are patient with their employees are on their way to bringing the generations together.
Choosing a Communication Method
As a manager, you may ask “How do we communicate with all these different people from so many age groups?” In a world where technology is growing, there are so many communication tools to use and every age group has a preferred way to communicate. This makes it difficult for a manager to keep track of all the text messages, voicemails and notes on their desks. Set expectations with your employees. Make sure you both understand the best ways to communicate with each other and when they can expect to get a response. And set a standard communication method for specific circumstances, such as procedure for calling off work.
Closing the Technology Gap
The technology gap between generations can be very frustrating and cause resentment and feelings of disrespect. Generations who are not as familiar with technology can feel like others are avoiding face-to-face interaction while more technologically savvy generations feel ignored when they aren’t receiving immediate responses or feedback. The best way to overcome this gap is by training and mentoring. Education for all staff is a way for the manager to develop their staff and help everyone learn and grow in the profession. Mentoring can help staff adjust to change by learning from their peers and developing relationships along the way.
Make a connection with your staff and involve them. Once you make the effort to understand them, it doesn’t matter what generation they come from. They will be on your side and equal players on your team.