How coaching can support the different generations in the workplace

The average workplace will now include people from up to five different generations.  That’s five different sets of childhood experiences, societal norms, cultural references and likes and dislikes.  From Traditionalists, born before 1945, to the incoming Generation 2020s, born after 1997, people from 17 to 70+, working in the same organisations. What is now acceptable for young people, older people would have been berated for.  Standards are different and so are expectations.  How do businesses begin to bring all these people together to form one harmonious team?

Challenges for managers
Having all these different generations working together side by side, collaborating in the same teams, means managers will be faced with the challenge of leading the most diverse range of staff we’ve probably ever had, in what is now a crowded, competitive and challenging work environment, that is both on and offline.

How millennials want to be managed 
A report published by the ILM Workforce 2020 – Managing Millennials, revealed that graduates wanted “a boss to be more a coach and friend, than a manager” in the traditional sense.  The research also revealed “a significant disconnect between graduates and managers over the type of relationship that exists”. Over half of the graduates’ said their ideal manager was a coach/mentor rather than someone who directs. The report went on to say that 75% of managers believe they are fulfilling the role of coach/mentor, but only just over a quarter of graduates agreed.

Organisations need to make changes to effectively manage and engage all employees and enable leaders to coach rather than control, in order for this particular generation to learn the skills they need and take ownership of the job. Managers may need help and support from their organisations to develop the core coaching skills required to engage and empower, without impeding their independence.

Managing the over 50’s
The ILM published a report ‘Untapped Talent – Can over 50’s bridges the leadership skills gap’, which identified key differences in desired management style. It pointed out that this group were keen to learn and develop, however their participation in training activities is less than that of their younger colleagues.

The ILM recommended that employers should offer training and development to the whole workforce and not target a particular group. As well as a lack of organisational recognition of the importance of continuing to train and develop all workers, older workers face additional psychological barriers to participation, a significant barrier being stereotyping about their capability.

Both reports provide an insight into data and views on how coaching can support the diverse workforce.  It also provides useful information that can be used by organisations to implement training programmes.  Using research and data driven systems, will mean managers are able to get the best out of each generation and have a cohesive workforce operating at its optimal level.

How Google does it 
According to CNBC in 2018, Google were voted number 5 in the ‘Best 100 Places To Work In The World’. Spending thousands of dollars on research, Google identified that there is a direct correlation between performance and management style.  Using this information, they invested in training for future leaders that had less emphasis on skills set and primarily focussed on mindset.

Google implemented changes in its training programme that it believed would better prepare its employees to deal with complex situations and challenges, in a fast-moving business.

By introducing these new training priorities and challenging assumptions and values, the industry giant is now the most preferred search engine in the world.

Google’s training is based on the findings of ‘Project Oxygen’ and the 8 qualities their research data identified as those of a good manager.

The 8 qualities of a good manager

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage
  3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
  4. Is productive and results orientated
  5. Is a good communicator
  6. Helps with career development
  7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills that help him or her advice the team

Coaching a workforce 
At Google scientific evidence is everything.  The Project Oxygen data provided hard evidence that convinces managers that they needed to improve their management style and interestingly, technical skills is the last on the list of desired attributes. Coaching and empowering staff is at the top of their list.

Coaching is a cost effective and proven method of improving the performance of teams and their managers ability to successfully lead. Implementing coaching programmes supports the workforce in a way other Learning and Development interventions do not.

The CIPD Coaching and Mentoring section of the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) website, provide examples of how coaching is a valuable development tool:

  • helping competent technical experts develop better interpersonal skills
  • supporting an individual’s potential and providing career support
  • developing a more strategic perspective after a promotion to a more senior role
  • handling conflict situations so that they are resolved effectively
  • dealing with the impact of change on an individual’s role.

Managing people
First and foremost, you must establish a good working relationship.  Like all relationships, it must be based on mutual trust and respect.  Trust is essential in developing an effective coaching culture.

Creating a sustainable workforce does not happen overnight. It requires investment in both people and time.  Give your managers the tools they need to lead the workforce by prioritising their ability to become inspiring leaders.

Richard Branson is often quoted as saying “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”.  If you want to start investing in your business and your workforce and start implementing the science-based techniques of mindfulness and coaching, contact me and together we can develop the right solution for you.

Tracey Latteman is an Executive Coach and Mentor  https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracey-latteman/

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