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Leading Change in a Multigenerational Workplace- A Gen Y’s Approach

May 20, 2011

It doesn’t matter which generation we are what matters is that each of us is leading change.

We are no longer ‘managing’ change and we all know the demographic differences between the generations.

It is time to focus on strategies and solutions that we can use to move forward and lead change.

A Gen Y leader in the healthcare industry recently shared with me that she is in her twenties and all of her direct reports are in their mid thirties and older. She recognizes that in order to move everyone forward with the big changes she needs to gain everyone’s trust and willingness to individually lead change.

She is willing to learn and understand the fears and concerns that her team has- specifically the fears about security or stability within job functions. It’s a fine line for her, as a Gen Y she sees the need for major reform and a major shift in attitudes and work viewpoints and yet she finds herself faced with a team who are fearful and doubtful.

So what does a Gen Y leader do to engage and encourage his or her team to embrace and lead the changes that are crucial to the future success of the industry?

Here are 3 tips for a Gen Y leader to help bring everyone on board and align with your vision for change:

1. Take the time to sit down with each of your team members and gather individual data and stories. It doesn’t matter what age anyone is when it comes to being treated like a valuable team member. By sitting down and gathering concerns and input you are practicing the art of collaborative leadership. Listen, write down what you hear and observe the reactions to change of each and every person on your team.

2. Share your vision and viewpoints on the changes, why you think they are valid and what you are willing to do to support your team through the changes. Ask each team member to openly communicate their concerns with you when they have them so that you can provide clarity and insight. Invite your team members to support the changes.

3. Provide visual proof of progress as you achieve milestones under your leadership. Using all modes of communication such as face to face, verbal, email, and intranet to share the progress. Leaders that provide constant information to their teams tend to have higher levels of buy-in from their teams.

As a leader of change each of us needs to put ourselves in the shoes of those who are on our team. Who are they? What is their individual personality? How does their personality contribute to how they view change? What is their generation? What has been their previous experience with change? If they are resisting you leadership towards change- why?

These are all powerful questions that will help you to focus on individual responses to change and how to adapt to them.

There is no question that a multigenerational workplace creates new dynamics when it comes to change. New technology, different values and viewpoints has created a modern workplace that needs more of a human touch to create positive change.

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