Managing digital natives vs immigrants in a world ruled by technology

You’re very likely familiar with the terms baby boomer (1946–1964), Gen X (1965–1976) and Gen Y (1977–1995) – with the latter more commonly known as millennials – but what happens when you group these generations together under one corporate roof in a world predominately ruled by technology?

Today, the workplace consists of both digital immigrants and natives from all walks of life. A baby boomer is often referred to as a digital immigrant, as technology has not been a part of every aspect of their daily lives since birth, meaning that it may take a little longer to master.

Millennials, however, have grown up surrounded by technology and digital devices from birth, and are thus known as digital natives. Their learning has been through absorption rather than having to actively apply themselves to understanding new technology.

So, the question begs: how can you, as a business leader, go about managing a diverse, multigenerational workforce made up of digital immigrants and natives?

Firstly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Research has revealed that baby boomers tend to stay with one or a small number of companies for most of their working lives, while millennials are more focused on making career moves that will accelerate their career growth. In order to retain young talent, managers need to adjust development and training programmes, to ensure there is regular growth and continuous career challenges.

When it comes to learning styles, leaders in a business need to recognise that different review structures and management styles are necessary for millennials, as they are constantly looking for continuous feedback and structured reviews.

This differs when it comes to baby boomers and Gen Xers, who are more familiar with a traditional work structure. They are more likely to value things such as stability, salary or employee benefits above accelerated career progression or continuous feedback.

As a business leader, strive to be aware of the inherent and unique differences in each person on your workforce and embrace them! All generations have something to offer; the trick is knowing how to get the best out of each employee…and that starts by treating them as an individual.

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