If you're like many construction managers today, your team is probably as generationally different as apples and oranges. Jeff Stokes, president & owner at Next Level Contractor System, Lenexa, Kan., offers advice on how to effectively manage; here, and at the 2015 World of Concrete.
Q: Why is today’s workforce so generationally diverse?
Stokes: You have 4 generations still in workforce today (Great, Boomer, X and Y), along with increasing diversity of nationalities, with immigration.
Q: Describe some of the biggest differences between the generations?
Stokes: The Great and Boomer generations still seeks persons that come ready made with technical skills and willing to work 60+ hours a week. The Mosaic (X and Y) are definitely more interested in work life balance and also need more skills training. They also desire more advancement opportunities faster and are not willing to pay the dues. Mosaic also wants to use technology and teamwork as opposed to rugged individualism of previous generations.
Q: Name the biggest challenge when it comes to managing a team of workers from different generations?
Stokes: Getting them to truly understand and appreciate the differences with a diverse group. Truly see the strengths of others as opposed to being frustrated. Another is taking the time to truly train them.
Q: What’s the most important thing managers can do to successfully lead a generationally diverse team?
Stokes: Take the time to get to know their people and put processes in place to encourage a diverse team. Too many times, [managers] jump right to the task portion without any regard for the interpersonal and human dynamics that are going to take place.
Q: Are there any don’ts when it comes to leading a team of people from different generations?
Stokes: Don't treat them all the same. This won't work. They are different people with different needs for managing/leading. It sounds obvious, but too often it is overlooked.