Monday, February 14, 2011

Managing Different Generations in Business

Last week I was chatting with a friend who is the Human Resource Manager of a local travel agency that has been in business for the last 50 years .I asked him, what is the key challenge that they are having with the current crop of young people joining their organization? His narration was very interesting. That the young people come with good academic papers straight from college and claim that they can perform the tasks given to them .They start off well and after a few days start taking frequent days off with no clear reason, they become restless, don’t perform their work diligently and that they are also not committed to the job compared to the other older and long serving employees.

The interesting issue is that most modern organizations may still be operating within the same fundamental principles of profitability that have governed business since they started, but  to trade successful in the contemporary arena many of the characteristics  have to change.

This common scenario raises the question of how do you manage the different generations of individuals who make up your staff.

HR managers and the key decision makers need to understand the different age groups and main stages in the career development of the employees to be able to manage them effectively and get results they desire. Each age group has different expectations for the job and what motivates them.

The employees in the ages ranging from 18 to 25 are in the Exploration stage .This period begins prior to employee’s entry into a profession or when one is looking for a job. This period continues up to the early periods of employment, when an employee asks questions whether he/she made the right choice.

Employees in the age between 25-35 are in the Establishment stage. This is the stage when employees gain an in-depth understanding of their assigned job and the professional demands of the work assignment. They begin to make their impact in their organizations. These are the older and long serving employees my friend was referring to.

Staff in the ages between 35-45 are in the Maintenance stage and at this stage the employees have entrenched themselves in their profession. Majority of them find it difficult to leave their profession at this stage due to their long investment in their job career and low marketability as a result of age.

Your staff in the ages between 45- 55 à65 are in the decline stage or depreciation stage when the employees’ professional and physical abilities begin to decrease as they approach their retirement.

Each of these generations is stimulated by different things and have come from different social upbringings. One solution cannot be applied across all of them and it is also crucial that you make sure that your company innovates and develops different ways to manage the different age groups working for it.

Contemporary businesses have a varied range of skills requirements and these requirements simply cannot be satisfied by just one of the generations I have discussed in this article. As is so often the case, the path to success depends upon finding a balance between the generations- employing the advantages, mitigating the weaknesses and encouraging accordingly – through educated and empathetic management.

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