Baby Boomers are hardworking and strive for stability, prestige and financial reward.
Gen X is self-sufficient and resourceful and values a good life-work balance.
Millennials are tech-savvy and seek meaningful work.
Gen Z is highly connected, loyal to brands that support their values and enjoys instant gratification.
With so many different characteristics and motivations in today’s multi-generational workforce, how does a manager oversee, inspire, and integrate a team of diverse workers?
That challenge is at the heart of a keynote presentation at SAF Orlando 2022, the Society of American Florists’ 137th annual convention Sept. 6-8 in Orlando, Florida. During “Gen Z to Boomers: Working Together for Success,” employee retention and recruitment expert Jeff Kortes and life coach Randy Wilinski will role play, share real life experiences and offer strategies to leverage each generation’s talents without clashes.
“We are going to be training on how to optimize the generations for greatness, especially the three obstacles that get in the way of getting performance out of all of your team members out of all of the generations,” Wilinski says.
It is a challenge many in the floral industry are experiencing; the topic came up during a session at SAF’s Next Gen LIVE! event in Miami earlier this month, where a panel of young managers and business owners discussed how to be a young boss and manage different generations of workers.
Communication is key, the panel agreed.
“Keep communication open regardless of generation,” said Jodi McShan, AAF, of McShan Florist in Dallas, Texas, where employees range in age from teens to late 60s. “It’s a different conversation for each generation, though. Each person needs a different connection.”
At Accent Decor, Chief Creative Officer Sarah Bagle wants to ensure that her team, which is mostly Millennials and Gen Z, are working toward the same goals.
“Communication needs to become more intentional and thoughtful,” Bagle said. “Decisions need to be shared widely and people need to connect with the ‘why’ behind the decisions.”
When it comes to potential clashes between the generations, the panelists suggested a few ways to help everyone on their team understand each other.
McShan does it by strategically by pairing employees to do tasks or training together. For instance, she’ll have a Gen X employee train high school students to help them better understand each other.
Other panelists suggested organizing events outside of work to give their team a chance to know each other in a more casual setting.
And for young managers overseeing employees who are older and might have more experience, the panel advised asking for their input and owning up to mistakes, but also being firm about decisions to try things a different way.
“They need to be a part of what you’re doing because they’re big reason why your company has grown and been successful,” Bagle said.
Sam Bowles, general manager at Allen’s Flowers in San Diego, California, considers his age an advantage when it comes to managing older employees who are accustomed to a different style of management.
“Their experience was being managed in an older style and a harsher style and a style that had less empathy,” he said. “And so, it’s been my experience that just by employing some basic emotional intelligence things, that to me that are just what a decent human being does, they’ve had the experience of having a boss that suddenly cares and listens.”
Amanda Jedlinsky is the managing editor of SAF NOW.