Discrimination and inclusivity legislation underline that every employee should be treated equally, with access to equal opportunities. However, generational diversity causes different generations of people respond differently in the same given scenarios. Different generations of people were socialized differently due to the culture and time they were brought up within. This has an impact on the way they work and learn.
Employers need to consider how they approach managing people of different ages to ensure work productivity and efficiency remains optimal at the same time as equality. Employers tend to focus on improving workforce diversity, yet age-based stereotypes remain because of natural generational differences. Just as older generations face ageism in recruitment for stereotypes such as not having enough energy for the role or being closer to retirement so are a waste of resources, the younger generations also face discrimination due to a lack of experience. Despite the number of young people achieving higher educational qualifications such as a degree, more and more are having difficulty finding a job in their field of expertise and education leading to a lower pay offer a different field all together. Other common stereotypes like gen-z being poor communicators due to being more comfortable interacting using technology over in person interaction or the older generations being out of touch with technology, although in some cases may be proven true, are often exaggerated. This showcases the importance of protecting all generations from age discrimination which the Equality Act 2010 covers, making it illegal to do so.
Despite these exaggerated stereotypes, this does not mean that different generations of employees will respond in the same way to specific management styles: successful management is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We recommend:
- Training employees in discrimination to heighten the awareness of unequal treatment on the grounds of age and showcase how different ages working together can be optimal for projects.
- Communicating with employees to find out what management styles they feel works best for them. This could be done via anonymous surveys to increase validity. This will help employers to manage their employees more.
- Carrying out frequent progress reports to flag up areas of improvement or in need of appraisal. This is one method to see first-hand if working techniques and management styles are working effectively for different employees. This also provides employees and employers the chance to have a conversation to raise any issues with the management style and if adaptations are required for more effective working. Employers can ask for constructive feedback from employees to ensure they are maintaining success within their role.
What is a management style? A management style is the method an authoritative employee/ team leader or manager uses to manage others. This includes how they organize work, decision making, appraisal/grievances, and how they use their authority. Different styles will work optimally depending on the scenario they are used within and will be adapted based on things like the volume of work, their goals and needs, the personality of whom they manage and timeframe for task or goal completion. Different managements styles:
- Authoritative: Managers using this style tend to focus on themselves without input from other employees. For example, they make most decisions by themselves and don’t ask for opinions or feedback. This style of management can be beneficial for time pressured situations in which a decision needs to be made however it is not effective for idea generation or for forming social relations (which can lead to higher staff turnover).
- Collaborative: managers using this style are usually favoured due to their increased involvement and the teamwork aspect of it. It encourages employees to work closely with them which strengthens workplace relationships, boosts morale, and therefore improves wellbeing. Managers adopting this approach or more likely to be treated with respect as a result. This positive approach can improve job satisfaction and therefore employee retention in addition to higher levels of productivity. It also ensures that the managers are always in the loop with what tasks need to be done or are completed which helps organization and efficiency. One downside to this strategy is that the increased involvement increases the likelihood of becoming burnout.
- Consultative: managers using this style consult employees often, asking for regular feedback or concerns. Despite consulting them, they remain the final decision maker. This helps to make employees feel appreciated as their opinions will help managers in their decision making which aids job satisfaction, increasing staff retention. One issue this management style could come across is a lack of efficiency in a time pressured environment due to the extended amount of people that have an input.
- Persuasive: Managers using this style make the decisions and whilst doing so will explain their justification behind them to showcase why they are what is best for company. Being open an honest with employees in this style will help to build trust. This is a good management style to use for less experienced employees as it will help to teach them without allowing mistakes to be made. However, the lack of feedback this allows can make employees feel insignificant and decrease motivation.
- Democratic: Managers using this style ultimately make the decision based off their employees’ suggestions. Both managers and employees work together therefore it improves communication, employee relationships and teamwork. This style makes employees feel valued as their opinion matters in the decision making which encourages them to work harder, increasing individual efficiency and productivity. However, similarly to consultative management, as the final decision involves input from an extended amount of people, it can take a lot longer which is not optimal when working under time pressured conditions/ towards a close deadline.
- Transformational: Managers using this style are constantly striving for improvement through innovation. This can be beneficial for helping employees with individual professional growth in addition to companies in competitive industries. However, this style is not sufficient for all employee characters as this could lead to them feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, or stressed which decreases wellbeing and decrease staff retention.
- Laissez-faire: Managers using this style allow employees to make their own decisions within their work and projects. They are always available for guidance or advice but ultimately the employee makes the final decisions, and they are not involvement in employee’s day-to-day work. This is not optimal for all characters as some employees may require slight pressure such as time or instructions to be motivated and efficient therefore this style applied to them could lead to a lack of productivity. But for employees who possess self-motivation this space can aid creativity for example in addition to increase job satisfaction as result of feeling trusted and valued.
Effective managers should be able to master a range of management styles to ensure they are successful in their role for all types of individuals.