Category Archives: Management

Engaging Your Multi-Generational Team

One of the most talked about topics in management circles is employee engagement. How can we get our people more engaged? We know that engaged employees are more productive, so how can we create an engaging environment? Why do some employees respond while others seem indifferent? How can we get buy-in from our oldest and youngest employees?

In an exhaustive review of the literature concerning engagement and generational differences, Nancy M. Schullery of Western Michigan University (Business Communication Quarterly, June 2013) describes the significant differences in how the Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer generations view the importance of intrinsic, extrinsic and other elements of the workplace. We won’t try to summarize a 15 page paper in a sentence, but one takeaway is that younger people place more value on the rewards of the work than their older peers. There are many other differences.

Knowing that supervisors and managers will have to lead and engage people from across multiple generations, what are senior executives to do? How can they fulfill their responsibility to provide the resources to their junior leaders so that they can get needed results in an ultra-competitive economy?

First, understanding that there are differences in what motivates employees from different generations is a start. The 60-something Boomer might enjoy the work for its own sake; the 23 year old Millennial is probably more interested in the paycheck that enables non-work activities.

Second, everyone in a management role should know how to balance the needs of the organization with the varied needs and wants of the employees. No matter what, the work stills needs to be done.

Finally, leaders need to be ready to deal with the inter-generational conflicts that will inevitably happen. Emily, the pierced and tattooed administrative assistant just might have a difference of opinion with James, her ex-military 40-something Gen X boss. Handling these situations quickly, professionally and effectively is critical.

If your organization is not realizing and appreciating the varied viewpoints of its people, chances are you are missing out on an opportunity to maximize engagement and effectiveness. Training your leaders to expect and manage differences can make a big difference. Harnessing the talent of your entire team is worth the effort.

Learning Dynamics can help you develop the skills to develop and manage a multi-gen workforce. Facilitator-led and e-module training solutions are available.

Building “Virtual” Teamwork : More than Clear E-mail

Virtual Team – By Robert Day, Learning Dynamics Consultant

What is your attitude about remote teamwork? In your view, is a remote team just a poor substitute for a team located together? Are the tools of instant internet communication just a replacement for face-to-face contact?  Do you see your main challenge in managing distance workers or telecommuters as a matter of keeping them from being unproductive? If you answered “yes” to any and all of those questions, I’ll say first that yours is a common reaction. Many view virtual leadership as a half-empty glass (at best).

We’ve had the tools of remote wireless communication available for almost 30 years, but managers and leaders in all types of organizations are still struggling.  Building effective teams and developing productive management styles with telecommuting, dispersed, mobile, and overseas colleagues requires skill and a plan.

I’d like to suggest that when it comes to managing virtual teams, effectiveness starts by seeing dispersed locations not as obstacles, but as opportunities to build bridges.  Jeff Edinger argues in his Harvard Business Review blog that remote workers are more focused, more committed, and more disciplined than groups that are “co-located” (in the same location).

There is an “if” to that: if the teams have effective leadership.  Effective remote leaders have learned how to develop focus, accountability, and creativity with their colleagues. They know how to motivate them, and how to make best use of all their communication tools.  Most of all, they have learned how to build trust and commitment.

When it comes to managing virtual teams, then, the glass is a lot more than half full.  If you approach your remote management responsibilities with that attitude, you’ve made the best possible start to effectively leading your virtual team.

Many strategies and techniques for leading virtual teams have emerged, largely through trial and error (or success!). Learning Dynamics offers an online module, Managing Virtual Teams, that covers the best of these. Let Learning Dynamics help you maximize the effectiveness of your company’s virtual teams.