As a company grows, so does its need for new talent, and in today’s workforce there are several generations to choose from. One can select from the well-seasoned Baby Boomer to the green bushytailed Millennials, each with their own strengths. Figuring out the correct balance for a company can be a challenge and takes some understanding of where the company stands in its development. All customers, regardless of their respective generations, are looking for the same things from a 3PL: timely communication, meeting delivery times, and avoiding additional cost.
Keep in mind the following when dealing with different generations.
- Be aware of preferred work styles: Boomers tend to prefer detailed instruction and guidance while Gen X and Millennials work better on teams.
- Adopting effective communication: This is key for effective and timely communication. Understanding the preferred method of communicating that a customer wants can alleviate communication barriers. For Veterans and Boomers a fixed hour work week can mean they are not reachable after a certain time as they typically prefer a phone call or personal conversation. Millennials, on the other hand, have communicated via technology all their lives, and are continuously connected and readily available as such -- a text message later in the evening many not be intruding.
- -Identifying the most successful feedback techniques: Understanding how the generations view feedback can help avoid pestering clients with hourly updates, or on the flip side, worrying them with minimal updates. Developing a relationship with customers can lead to a clearer and tailored feedback channel. A “No news is good news,” approach may suit a Boomer client, but the same approach would not be suitable for a connected Millennials utilizing live feed software.
- Recognize the different reactions to conflict: Avoiding conflict should be a primary goal in every customer relationship. However, when problems occur, understanding what approach a customer will take can expedite solutions. Whether the customer expresses their concerns via a corporate hierarchy as a sign of respect as is frequent with Boomers, or take an immediate and direct approach as is seen in Gen Y, they are both looking for relief. With this understanding one can present solutions to the right parties or teams both timely and directly, making best use of everyone’s time.
While there are multiple generations in the workforce, there is no guaranteed approach to dealing with each of group. As time continues to blend generation, their knowledge, traits, and even habits can be displayed in another. Developing a partnered approach to any customer relationship will allow one to develop a tailored approach to what the client needs, regardless of their generation.
Here are a few key items to focus on when leading or developing new leaders from a Boomer/Gen X perspective:
1. Start listening, stop assuming –One needs to engage with these newest employees and listen to what they have to say. Don’t assume one has them figured out because one read a book about them.
- Scrap, “Do as I say, not as I do” -Young people can be very bright; they watch and learn. If they desire reasons for why we do things, tell them there is no harm done, because if you can’t provide them with an authentic experience, we have little chance of coming together or retaining them.
From a Millennial perspective, here are a few things to keep in mind when establishing your role among the prior generation:
- Have perspective: Today’s leaders grew up in a very different world. Much of what research says Millennials wants out of their careers took most of the Boomers a long time to earn. Today’s leaders have perspective that differs - that is a good thing, learn from them.
- Pursue mentors and advocates -Most business leaders will point to mentors and advocates early in their careers who played important roles in their success. There is enormous value in having experienced guides to help you navigate your career. Many leaders are willing to be a mentor, but you must win their advocacy first by showing your commitment to the relationship.
Finding the right mix for the company can create a stronger and more well-rounded team.
DC Manager - Fontana I