There has always been talk about the “generational conflict”- parents who cannot speak the same lingo as their children, different views between grandparents and grandchildren, among other discussions.
However, this discussion is not restricted to the family scenario. Good generation management within companies is the difference between successful businesses and those that will not survive the new demands of the market.
Marcopolo, a world reference in building bus bodies, understands this subject well. After all, we live in a time where the current management of the company is very inspired by the teachings of the late Mr. Paulo Bellini.
So we created an article on how to deal with different generations of leaders and get the best out of these interactions for the company.
Enjoy the read!
Which generations are part of the labor market?
First, it is necessary to understand which generations are at the companies today. This is complicated because this “distinction” involves economic, cultural and social factors.
However, we can divide generations of the current leaders into:
• Baby Boomers: They bear this name because of the demographic explosion after World War II. They are people born between 1945 and 1960, who have undergone a major cultural transformation thanks to the popularization of television. In general, they are collaborators who value stability and spend many years at the same company.
• Generation X: Those born between 1961 and 1980 began to question by thinking “the company is not everything”. Hierarchies still matter, but they are more flexible – they don’t expect professional recognition to come from within an office. They are active, dynamic and think about entrepreneurship.
• Generation Y: Also known as Millennials, are people born between 1981 and 2000. As they grew up with the technological revolution, they have entered into the job market already familiar with this reality. Unlike previous generations, they do not appreciate rigid hierarchies and believe that the organization needs to adapt to the individual and not the other way around.
• Generation Z: They are now entering the labor market and can already cause generational conflict. After all, they were born in 2001 and they don’t know a world without technology – either at work or in life.
How can different generations of leaders contribute to the success of your company?
In this scenario, promoting good generation management is essential to ensure a harmonious work environment. As we saw in the previous topic, they are people with different views on career, hierarchy and relationship with the company.
It is up to the manager to know how to deal with these perspectives and promote a good relationship between the leaders. It is necessary to overcome stereotypes, to break down the idea of inevitable generational conflict and to stimulate communication within the company.
Your business can only benefit from this, as the advantages of having leaders from different age groups are:
Stimulating organizational creativity
A company that always seeks to be ahead of its time needs to understand how to deal with this generational conflict – and make the most of this exchange. The experience of the older collaborators and the willingness of younger collaborators is a powerful combination.
This promotes creative processes within the corporate environment. This stimulus also helps in conflict resolution, as different views on the same problem provide more assertive solutions.
Contribution to innovation
There is no way to separate organizational creativity from innovation. Generation management, when done well, needs to consider diversity as an essential fuel for new ideas.
This difference is not just on the “shop floor”. Having different generations of leaders means having different people who, together, will contribute to a culture of innovation. Consequently, the organization gains a competitive advantage and stands out within the market.
Working in a company already provokes learning, thanks to the interaction between collaborators. Having leaders from different age groups accelerates learning, as each one brings different views and experiences.
Generation management in family businesses: even more of a challenge
Generation management can be more difficult when it comes to a family business. This has always been a concern of Marcopolo, which emerged in 1949 as a family business and today has crossed borders.
Finding middle ground between different points of view is an extra challenge when leaders share the same last name. The 2012, PwC´s survey on Family Businesses summed up this generational conflict well: “Some family businesses are able to withstand the storms of an economic crisis, but collapse at the first conflict between family members.”
After all, those who run a family business deal with generation management at two different levels: within the business and also as a member of the family. Therefore, the best recommendation is to think in the long term: talk with family members now about what will be done in the coming years. This avoids generational conflicts in everyday operations and also when “passing the baton” on to the next leaders.
Opening this communication channel allows the company to assess the skill and ability gaps to be filled. If necessary, hire a consultancy or talk to other ventures that have experienced this same challenge.
We hope that this content has helped you to think of new strategies for generation management. Remember that having different thoughts and opinions does not need to be a bad thing. On the contrary, encouraging creativity and teamwork, whether between leaders or other positions, is essential for the success of the company. How about watching a quick TEDx Talk video on “Different Generations”? Click here!