Blog with Joel Brookman

Adapt Your Management Style

Not long ago I had a discussion with a seasoned manager (in his early 50’s) that was venting his frustration with the younger people on his team. He was having difficulty understanding how to keep this group motivated: “The older generation team members live to work, while this younger group seems more entitled. They see work as a means to an end, their dedication and loyalty is just not the same.” He was asking me how to get them all on the same page. My answer is that you cannot. We now have four generations in the workplace, which puts corporate America in a place it’s never been before. People are living and working longer than at any other time in history. As a manager you cannot treat everyone the same way. You must get to the essence of what drives the individual. Many of the answers can be found by understanding the generation to which they belong. The best solution is to adapt your management style accordingly.

As a good manager you must be a leader. Strong leadership isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s about empowering them to make good business decisions, then ensuring that they execute effectively on those decisions.

So we have to do is empower people. The challenge is that the same methods won’t work for everyone. There are some common motivators that are typically shared by entire generations of people. This is why it’s important to understand the nuances between the four different generations that exist in today’s workplace.

The first step is to see the world through the eyes of each individual you manage. Realize that they may have been raised differently from you and your goal is to understand how they think, what motivates them, and what you can do as a leader to provide the empathy and security they need. It might sound touchy-feely (especially for those of us in our 40’s and beyond) but in the end if we want attract and retain talented people, we must create an environment for them to flourish.

The management challenges I hear the most involve Millennials. While there are a few opinions on the range of the Millennial generation, most suggest that the birth range runs from 1982 through 2006. This group was brought up differently from their predecessors. They were raised to believe that they were special and as such can have or do anything they desire. Their parents were much more involved in their day–to-day activities. They were given participation trophies for their activities (even if they finished last). Their upbringing has presented challenges for them as they’ve enter the workforce. They quickly learn that they are not as special as they were told and that their parents can no longer help. Now they are forced to adapt to the values of the generations ahead. This may sound like an easy thing to do, but it’s not. It goes against the value set they’ve come to know through their upbringing. As a manager you must come to realize that in just four years, Millennials will become the single biggest component of the global work force. You need to adapt to the needs and desires of this group just as they must adapt to you. In an increasingly competitive job market, “my way or the highway” and “one size fits all” are no longer the answers.

This week’s message is simple: 1. If you want to be a successful leader, create an environment for your people to thrive. 2. Strive to walk in their shoes so you have a better understanding of what motivates them. 3. Treat them the way you treat your best customers by adapting your management style for each employee. If you do these three things they will move mountains for you.

Posted by Joel Brookman in empowerment, Management, managing people, Uncategorized and tagged .


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