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Bridge the Culture and Generation Gap to Make Effective Organizational Change

7 tactics to use in a stakeholder engagement strategy for employees

There was a time – now in the distant memory – when organizations were managed by authoritarian methods. If the manager asked his or her staff to jump, they would ask “How high?”. Today, things are not quite so straightforward. People crave satisfaction in their work. They want to know that their efforts are appreciated. They want to be active contributors to success. They consider themselves to be stakeholders in the business, and not simply a number collecting a weekly paycheck.

Added to this new dynamic, teams are now multigenerational. For organizational leaders and managers, this new environment can bring many benefits. A mix of experience, energy, creativity, and innovation are ingredients of success.

However, different generations have different outlooks on work and life. They have different communication styles, adjust to new technologies at various speeds (or, perhaps, not at all), and work differently. This diversity can create new conundrums, confusion, and conflicts.

To overcome these issues, organizations must employ a stakeholder engagement strategy internally. This strategy must be as dynamic as the workforce itself, and delivered by leaders who influence rather than dictate.

Millennials are a key motivator of cultural acceptance

Millennials are key to an organization’s success. In the future, they will be its leaders. In the present, they are helping to redefine cultural attitudes. They work well in teams and are creative, with technological ability that enhances their reputation as information gatherers. Perhaps most importantly in a society with such fluid movement of people, millennials are more tolerant of cultural diversities.

7 tactics to engage your workplace stakeholders

Bringing the generations together to maximize beneficial potential must be carefully planned. Organizations must:

  • Account for generational diversity
  • Facilitate working and learning from each other
  • Employ appropriate communication styles and techniques
  • Recognize the efforts of their employees
  • Listen to concerns, desires, and ideas

These tactics combine to create a powerful stakeholder engagement strategy in the workplace.

1.    Coach your managers in generational diversity

Leaders and managers must first understand the beats with which they are dealing. Coach them to recognize and understand generational diversity, so they can embrace the potential by employing appropriate leadership tactics.

2.    Enable cross-generational collaboration

Encourage millennials to benefit from the experience of baby boomers. Simultaneously, senior employees should learn from the new viewpoint of the younger generation. One way to facilitate these learning processes is to adopt mentoring programs that bridge the generational divide. This kind of mentorship has benefits for both parties.

3.    Engage people by considering different learning and working preferences

People of different generations learn differently. Baby boomers prefer classroom-based presentations and textbooks, while millennials prefer interactive training enabled by technology. Build your training with these differences in mind.

In daily work, focus on creating a standard against which everyone is measured. Consider results achieved, and give flexibility as to how those results are achieved by allowing more flexibility of working routines; for example, by offering flexible hours or remote working opportunities.

In longer-term projects, consider engaging millennials by giving them extra responsibilities outside their normal remit.

4.    Create an open environment to encourage collaboration

Encourage people to converse often and openly. In team meetings, ask for (and listen to) ideas and the sharing of experiences. Encourage a collaborative culture to drive continuous change by enabling decision-making in cross-generational and cross-functional working groups.

This new open and transparent culture can also be encouraged by redesigning office space. Eliminate closed doors and open the space.

5.    Be a people organization

Different generations are at different stages of their life. Show concern for their personal wellbeing and needs: offer flexibility of hours and working practices to allow people to have a better work/life balance. This is more difficult than it appears – organizations must also be seen to treat all employees equally and fairly.

6.    Use appropriate communication styles and channels

Different generations communicate differently. Younger employees generally prefer social media-style channels of communication (texting, instant messaging, and emails), while baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication and talking on the phone. Still, when discussing something important, the Millennials still perfer face-to-face interactions.  By keeping day-to-day interactions on text channels, and more important or meaningful interactions in physical space, you help to communicate that to your staff as well.

When holding meetings, ensure that there is something to discuss and to engage all employees.

7.    Recognize people, their commitment, and their efforts

Create a recognition program that rewards people appropriately. Use email to congratulate people personally, and the intranet or team meetings to recognize workers publicly. Provide extra training and coaching not because people are failing, but because they deserve a boost in their career prospects. Ensure that one-to-one reviews provide employees with the opportunity to be open and honest.

The millennial generation is the first to be working with three other generations of employees as colleagues. As their influence grows in the workplace, an organization’s long-term success may depend on the ability of its leaders to adapt employee engagement strategies to bridge the generational gap and recognize that employees are the key stakeholders in any business.

To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching in consulting and facilitating will help your organization and leaders produce lasting change and embrace generational diversity, contact Forward Focus today.

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