EY Survey Explores Managing the Generational Mix

Managing the Mix
Once organization leaders understand how the survey explains the forces at play in their multigenerational workforce, Twaronite said they can use that information to refine the day-to-day operations of managing their age-diverse crew.
Twaronite and Darrington Hobson, a senior manager in assurance at Ernst & Young LLP, say EY's management techniques can be specifically honed for small to midsized accounting and financial organizations looking to enhance their teams.

How to Build High-Performing, Generationally Diverse Teams

  • Formally stress the importance of constructive feedback across generations. "We actively encourage our Gen Y managers to seek feedback and teach them how to ask very specific questions to garner that feedback," Twaronite said.
  • Emphasize the importance of good communication and incorporating diverse perspectives on a team. Encourage people to solicit ideas, and listen to all voices in the room  not just the loudest or most senior voice.
  • Formally debunk generational misperceptions. Counter unfair generational labels by sharing facts and research. 
  • Have seasoned managers model executive presence for Gen Y managers. Experienced managers can show newbies how to do much more than "dress for success." They can model how to present to clients and how to demonstrate confidence (through tone of voice, language, body language).
  • Capitalize on Gen Ys' entrepreneurial spirit to benefit the entire team. View their entrepreneurialism as a bonus. Don't silo them. Feed their entrepreneurial spirit by allowing them to surpass their job description  a plus for time-strapped organizations.
  • Foster cross-generational activities outside of work. Encourage team members to participate together in community organizations, professional societies, and volunteer opportunities. Encourage cross-generational bonding outside the office over a common cause. 
  • Incorporate all types of differences, including generational diversity, into your organization's overall inclusiveness philosophy and training. "The big focus needs to be on building an environment that is inclusive overall, of all backgrounds and diversity," Hobson said. "It needs to be front and center in everyone's mind."
  • Demonstrate to team members that diverse perspectives benefit the client.
Twaronite and Hobson say smaller firms can easily adapt the above techniques practiced by EY.
Twaronite said the first step to managing the generational mix is to take a proactive approach to informing the diverse brew of ages and perspectives in your office. EY found it was critical to formally educate employees on generational differences and similarities, and, if possible, to tailor recruiting, talent development, and communications practices to best appeal to an increasing Millennial population. 
"Investments like these are a prerequisite for building high-performing, generationally diverse teams," Twaronite said.
For smaller to midsized organizations, Twaronite said it's especially important to formalize job shadowing for younger managers and intentionally build cross-generational teams that offer a diversity of thought and perspective.
Ultimately, Hobson said, he believes it's important that managers combine a common sense approach to dealing with people as well as exercising understanding backed by research to establish a truly cross-generational team.
Hobson says it's important for people to get to know each other, it's important for team leaders to know what motivates their people, and, as simple as it sounds, it's important to make everyone  regardless of whether they were born in the "summer of love" or came of age in the era of social media  feel their opinion is "valued, appreciated, and sought after." 
"I think of myself as a coach. As a coach, you know every position on the team is important to win. You have to identify people's strengths and weaknesses and focus on both. You have to put people in a position where they can be successful and, at the same time, challenge them to grow," Hobson said. "You have to understand each person's diverse experience isn't required on every project, but you always have to have a diverse set of experiences to adapt to different situations." 
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