Why IT Managers Need To Build Teams That All Generations Want To Work On

by drjim on September 18, 2014

A good IT team has someone from each generation on it

A good IT team has someone from each generation on it
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IT managers dread the day that they have to manage certain generations – we don’t have the IT manager skills to deal with this situation. Whatever generation the IT manager belongs to should be easy to manage – they know how that generation thinks. It’s all the other generations that cause the problems. However, it turns out that what we need to be doing is building teams that are open to all generations. Just exactly how are we supposed to go about doing that?

How We Like To Communicate

As an IT manager one of the most important things that you need to realize about managing multiple generations is that we all communicate differently. In the modern workplace there are multiple different ways that we can share information with each other and we all have different preferences as to how we accomplish this.

The younger generations, the millennials, like to use the most modern of communication tools. These are the employees who will tweet their questions and use Instagram and Snapchat to connect with other members of their teams. The slightly older Generation X members of your team will prefer to use email for almost all of their communications. Finally, the baby boomers will rely on voice conversations conducted over the telephone or in person.

As an IT manager you need to appreciate that everyone will have their own preferred means of being contacted. Instead of trying to get everyone to conform to one method, your job is to facilitate the communication between team members. One way to make this happen is to create and distribute a spreadsheet that lists each person on your team and their preferred method of being contacted. It turns out that most people will get in touch with each other using the preferred method if they know that the person has a preference.

How We Like To Be Managed

All of that IT manager training that we’ve had dealt with IT team building but never really taught us how to deal with trying to manage people who had very definite ideas about how they wanted to be managed. When you are managing a team that has multiple generations on it, you’re going to have a challenge because each generation has their own ideas about how they want to be managed.

You are going to be dealing with two differing approaches to how your team wants to be managed. The older members of your team are going to believe that everyone needs to earn their place on the team and that this takes time – you have to work your way up the ladder. The younger members of your team are going to want to have their voices heard right off the bat – they don’t want to have to wait to reach a certain level for their thoughts to be part of the decision making process.

One way to handle this challenge is to create a flat management structure to use for your team. This can allow leaders to emerge on a per project basis depending on each worker’s unique set of skills and talents.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers are facing a challenge that has not been seen in the workplace before: we have three different generations that are all working together. It is our responsibility to build teams that are inviting to each generation and allows them to work together.

A key part of making this happen is to understand that everyone likes to communicate differently. Acknowledge this and make it easy for everyone to know how everyone wants to be reached. Projects need to have a flexible management structure. The younger workers will want a way for their voices to be heard and you need to accommodate that.

The good news is that as an IT manager you’ve got an incredibly diverse workforce to choose from. Your big challenge will be in creating teams that people want to join. Take the time to understand the needs of each generation and you’ll be the IT manager that everyone wants to work for…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What are the first steps that you need to take when assembling a multi-generation team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

“More innovation, please!” This is what IT managers have been hearing on a daily basis for the past few years. I think that we all understand why we’re being asked to help out, everyone believes that we have the IT manager skills that are needed to make this happen and they believe that we’ve had the IT manager training that will allow us to make this happen. What IT managers need is just a little bit of help in discovering exactly how to go about growing some of that innovation stuff…

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