Workplace diversity is a sign of a healthy organization. But when it comes to managing multiple generations, many managers find the challenges overwhelming. Besides their everyday responsibilities, such as fostering teamwork and setting team priorities, managers are facing questions like:

  • How do I motivate someone much older than I am?
  • How do I relate to Gen Z newcomers?
  • How do I ensure that everyone works together toward our common goal?

Answering these questions begins with acknowledging that the multigenerational workplace is here to stay and it’s great for business.

Here are three steps to help you manage your multigenerational team more successfully:

1. Focus on the benefits. For the first time ever, there are five generations working together. That’s considered a good thing. Studies show that diverse teams do better work and their companies have higher profits. The differences that diverse generations bring to the table work for the team agenda rather than against it. But that’s only true when managers capitalize on those differences.

2. Understand the generations. To unlock the benefits of multigenerational teams, managers must first understand who they’re working with. To pull value from this diversity, here’s a quick rundown on the five generations and some generalities:

  • Traditionalists (born before 1946) are known for being cautious and proud.
  • Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) are known for being optimistic.
  • Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1979) are known for being independent.
  • Millennials (born 1981 – 1997) are known for being entitled and collaborative.
  • Gen Z (born 1998 – mid-2000s) are known for being diverse and more likely to start their own business.

3. Focus on building connections among individuals. As a manager, it’s your job to help everyone (including yourself) move beyond these generalizations. Instead, see people from different generations as individuals who can think for themselves. Experts at Harvard Business School suggest following a military approach, where 22-something lieutenants frequently manage 45-something sergeants. Their secret is to focus on building camaraderie rather than highlighting generational stereotypes and differences. Many organizations encourage mentoring relationships between individuals of different generations since each has much to offer another.

There are many more ways managers can learn to tap in to the benefits of generationally diverse teams. Learning about different communication styles and conducting annual surveys about workplace satisfaction are some examples.

By following this advice, you can make significant headway toward encouraging a happier and more efficient multigenerational workplace.