Revitalizing Remote Teams Across Generations
Over the past couple of years, the skill of engaging remote teams composed of different generations has become critical for companies and teams to avoid the “Great Resignation” that has led to decreased team engagement. This article introduces various methods to highlight the similarities and minimize the differences across the generations.
Today’s workforce is composed of four different generations, and consequently managers are tasked with motivating teams despite the contrasting wants and needs throughout the age groups. Remote work offers many perks that people love, however one noticeable drawback is the lack of team culture which can easily lead to staff feeling isolated and disconnected. Company culture is imperative to overall job satisfaction and when company culture is poor, companies are quick to see employees quit. So, the question is, how does management equally motivate baby boomers who tend to prefer face to face communication and formal communications, while simultaneously satisfying Gen X employees who tend to prefer email and less formal communication styles?
For reference of the generations:
Baby Boomers: (1946-1964)
Generation X: (1965 – 1980)
Millennials: (1981 -1996)
Generation Z: (1997 – 2012)
Any successful leader or project manager needs to understand, implement, and compromise to appeal to the team’s communications preferences and recognition styles. This can be done by highlighting the similarities and minimizing the differences. However, this tends to force management to get a bit more creative when figuring out how to engage their teams in the remote space.
Highlight the Similarities:
- People Crave Connection: A lot of the workforce can agree that moving to remote can feel more transactional. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) called Lonely at Work, highlighted that eight out of ten employees feel lonely in the workplace. A few tactics to improve this would be hosting healthy lifestyle challenges, virtual happy hours, online trivia, personality tests, etc.
- Create a Mentor Program: The perfect opportunity to get the different generations working together is creating a mentorship program. According to the Cigna 360 Global Well Being Survey 2022, young employees of Generation Z are the most likely to be worried about the lack of job opportunities available to them. Mentorship programs are mutually beneficial as they provide the ability for employees to engage and develop close relationships with people in a different age group. The also provide the opportunity for mentees to learn more about different positions throughout the company and aid in boosting confidence in the workplace.
- Provide Transparency on Organizational Structure: Nobody wants to be lost on where they stand within a team and/or company. For instance, baby boomers are known for preferring hierarchy, while millennials are associated with valuing clear opportunities for growth all while Generation X is associated with craving transparency. These shared values can be satisfied by posting and maintaining the organizational chart on a shared internal platform. To take this further, it is conducive for all parties when leadership provides clear written guidance on requirements to be promoted to the next level.
Minimize the Differences:
- Awareness of Team Preferences: Know how your team likes to be communicated and implement ways that meet each need. This can best be achieved by having the team complete surveys on tools such as Microsoft Forms or SurveyMonkey. Due to employees potentially being reluctant to share their true communication preferences with leadership, it is best to have the surveys set up with providing their name as optional vs. required when completing the survey.
- Foster a Culture of Flexibility: Focus on what you have the power to make more flexible. Once employees have proven trustworthy and capable, there are benefits in letting employees pick projects, create their own project plans, etc. Encouraging employees to have the autonomy and creativity to know when and what is required tends to boost employee confidence and buy-in on the overarching team and company values.
- Keep Customer as the Priority: When the customer is the priority there is less time for the team to have internal debates and more time for the team to focus on the mutual goal of a satisfied customer.
- Communicate in Multiple Channels: People’s attention span and preferred communication methods differ; so to appeal to the variances, it is valuable to share the same messages through several mediums such as emails, meetings, articles, etc. For instance, employee A may have a hard time focusing in virtual meetings, while employee B tends to skim longer emails. This method may be harder for the project manager but is mutually beneficial by ensuring the team receives messages in the way that most resonates with them and leaves no excuses for missed information within the team.
Remote and hybrid teams are here to stay, so it is important for today’s managers and leadership to create ways to revitalize their multi-generational teams. One method managers and company leadership can build cohesive multigenerational teams is by highlighting the similarities and minimizing the differences. Similarities can be highlighted by providing opportunities for connection, creating mentor programs, and providing organizational transparency.
Differences can be minimized by boosting communication, incorporating flexibility, and keeping the customer as priority. The best interconnected teams have the awareness and structure set in place to play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so when these four generations create bonds, it can lead to today’s teams being stronger than ever.