Motor carriers are not strangers to the challenges of leading a multi-generational workforce. Each group of workers has its own unique set of characteristics and values, which are reflected in the group’s likes, dislikes, and attitude towards work.
Because of each group’s uniqueness, a one-size-fits-all leadership style may not produce the best results. Leaders must be dynamic in their approaches and apply the appropriate leadership style to the person in front of them. A key to success is engaging all employees and building individual relationships to better understand what motivates each employee to perform at his or her best. This approach will not only help improve communication and operational effectiveness but also help you grow as a leader. Here are some tips for leading each generational group.
BABY BOOMERS (1944-1964)
Baby boomers tend to be goal-oriented and loyal workaholics. However, one misconception about Baby Boomers is their perceived lack of tech savvy. Baby Boomers have adapted to technology to stay in touch with family members and reconnect with old friends. Try using social media as a means to communicate regularly with Boomers and keep them engaged.
GENERATION X (1965-1979)
Generation Xers are the first technology-era generation. They are willing to put in long hours to get the job done but value work-life balance. Family and friends matter to Gen Xers, who saw a decline in civic community. To combat this loss of community, “Workplaces that are able to create a true sense of community become the preferred work environments for this generation, and teamwork is a favored way of creating momentary communities” according to Jay A. Conger, professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School.
GENERATION Y/MILLENNIALS (1980-1994)
Millennials are achievement-oriented and may be more willing to take risks. One misconception is that they do not like to work. Au contraire—Millennials want to be challenged, and if they cannot find a challenge with one job, they will not hesitate to look elsewhere. Their loyalty tends to be to their profession and less to an employer. They are also family-oriented and desire a flexible work schedule. Look for ways to keep Millennials challenged with special projects, such as serving on the safety committee, and provide opportunities for advancement.
GENERATION Z (1995-PRESENT)
Generation Zers are those tech-savvy young adults who could use a smartphone before they learned to tie their shoes. This group makes up the young workers the trucking industry is trying to entice. To do so, understand that Gen Zers respond well to coaching and mentoring. Remember, they are used to communicating with emojis and short texts, so be patient and help them develop interpersonal skills by making them feel accepted and valued.
- Identify three ways you can better lead the different generations represented in your workforce.
- Engage workers on a regular basis to build relationships (ex. walking the lot, safety meetings, etc.).
- Discuss generational leadership styles at your next management meeting.
- Survey employees and ask how the company can improve.
Source: Great West Casualty Company