Be an Effective Team LeaderIf you’re like me, you’ve probably grown just a little bit tired of all the articles about millennials in the workplace. It seems like every day I see ten new headlines about how younger workers are taking over—and now we’re even seeing articles about Generation Z!

It’s not that I have anything at all against younger workers—far from it. And it’s not that I think it unimportant to consider issues that multiple generations bring to the workforce. But here’s what I ultimately think: Great leaders do more than just zero in on the little distinctions that separate one generation from the next. And great leaders never pit generations against one another, as if to suggest one is worthier than the other.

What great leaders do is bring different age groups together—engaging them in the workplace, fostering a spirit of inclusion, celebrating differences and affirming common purpose.

Obviously, that’s a mouthful—but how is it done?

Managing Across Different Generations

A few tips:

  1. Define your culture in terms of behaviors/values, not age. Your employees may think that age disparity is a big deal—but what if you define each job and each project in terms of specific behaviors and values? Then, all of a sudden, age is less of an issue: Employees either have the values you’re looking for or they don’t, and age has nothing to do with it.
  2. Give the gift of your feedback. No matter the employee’s age, rest assured that he or she craves your feedback—affirmation for good work, timely and specific critiques for subpar work. Don’t scrimp on feedback because you think an employee is too young to handle it or too old to need it!
  3. Allow employees to provide their Engaging employees means doing more than just telling them what to do. Engaging leaders also provide specific forums for team members to offer suggestions and input on how the team is functioning.
  4. Provide training where needed. Some employees—older ones, in particular—may be unengaged because they fear they lack the necessary skillsets to contribute to the team. Support all team members by providing training and instruction where needed.
  5. Support mentorship programs. Another great way to promote unity on your team is to create a formal mentorship program—pair older and younger employees and let them encourage one another.

As a leader, you’re likely going to have employees of different ages—so make sure you’re engaging all of them, and making use of the unique skills that they bring.