How to Manage Your Sales Team’s Generational Differences in the Workplace

With more Americans working past the age of 65, five different generations now fill the modern workplace for the first time in history. While having generational differences in the workplace isn’t a negative phenomenon, it certainly brings new challenges to the company culture. After all, business leaders must find a way to manage and appease five different working styles to retain high-quality talent.

In this post, you’ll discover more about working groups and the top ways sales teams can manage generational gaps in the workplace. While each group has its own expectations, communication methods, and perspectives, businesses need to maintain symmetry, especially as the Millennial and Gen Z generation will account for over 60% of the workforce in 2025.

Do you need to maintain sales growth or boost company morale? Let’s dive into how better managing generational styles in your workforce can help. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Five generations currently exist within the workplace, all with unique working styles and needs.
  • Common workplace issues often stem from poor culture and stereotypes.
  • Developing a mentoring program and accepting the individual helps create symmetry.

What are the Different Generations in the Workplace?

One size no longer fits all when it comes to company culture. Your sales team doesn’t only have generational differences, but also individual differences that you need to manage. 

Current U.S. Workforce Numbers By Generation

Source: Purdue University Global

Get started by understanding the five generations’ motivations:

Traditionalists

As traditionalists, your employees are loyal and enjoy satisfying and stable working conditions.

  • Born: 1925-1945
  • World events: The Great Depression and World War II
  • Communication style: Handwritten notes and phone calls instead of email
  • Viewpoint: Age equals seniority, which allows you to advance higher

Baby Boomers

Boomers are overall optimistic, team-oriented, and competitive. If you provide specific goals and allow them to mentor others, they are more likely to succeed.

  • Born: 1946-1964
  • World events: Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement
  • Communication style: Phone calls and face-to-face meetings
  • Viewpoint: Success and achievement comes from paying your dues

Generation X

Your Generation X employees are overall flexible and independent. You need to provide immediate feedback and work-life balance to meet their needs.

  • Born: 1965-1980
  • World events: Dot-com boom and fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Communication style: Phone calls and face-to-face meetings
  • Viewpoint: Favors diversity and will move on fairly quickly if you aren’t a good fit

Millennials

Millennials, the largest emerging workforce, are competitive and achievement-oriented. To help Millennials succeed, you should provide immediate feedback and get to know them more personally. 

  • Born: 1981-2000
  • World events: September 11th and the Internet
  • Communication style: Instant messages, email, and text
  • Viewpoint: Seeks new challenges and growth, along with a fun and work-life balance

Generation Z

As the newest generation in the workplace, Generation Z is entrepreneurial, progressive, and wants more dialogue. Your business will need to provide the ability to work on multiple projects and independence to keep Gen Z pleased.

  • Born: 2001-2020
  • World events: Great Recession and access to all technology
  • Communication style: Instant message, text, and social media
  • Viewpoint: Innovated and tech-focused who value individuality 

What are the Biggest Generational Challenges in the Workplace?

Before jumping into how to bridge the gap with generational differences in the workplace, it’s essential to identify critical challenges businesses face. Of course, not all workforces are the same, and you need to talk to your employees to determine common issues. 

To get started, here are a few generational pain points:

  • Company culture: Each generation values culture differently, so you’ll need to help encourage all employees to interact.
  • Communication: Since no one method will work for all, managers should follow the individual’s preferred style instead.
  • Negative stereotypes and expectations: It’s important to allow employees to work in a style that best suits them and call out any negativity when it occurs.

If you want to monitor challenges in your workplace, consider sending out a quarterly anonymous survey to track any progress or regression made and uncover powerful employee insights.  

71% of Executives Believe Employee Engagement is Critical to Success

Source: Smarp

Top 3 Ways to Manage Generational Differences in the Workplace

With each generation having their preferences and styles, issues among the sales team are bound to happen, especially as 74% of professionals anticipate moving to a fully remote environment. For managers to accommodate the individual, it’s best to understand everyone’s framework and expectations to suit their needs better as the workforce continues to change.

Here are a few additional tips to help you bridge generational gaps in the workplace:

Encourage Different Working Styles

Your sales team members want to feel appreciated and add meaningful work to your organization. Since everyone brings unique skills and personalities, you need to find ways to accommodate their preferences to complete their best work.

Instead of conforming to a “standard,” consider these solutions:

  • Provide flexible working hours in the morning and evening
  • Focus on work-life balance
  • Allow multiple communication methods like Slack, email, video conference, and phone
  • Use feedback cycles to help employees develop regularly

Focus on Commonalities

If you categorize your employees by their generation, you can ultimately create more of a divide. For example, your Millennials won’t want to be labeled “job hoppers,” and the Boomers won’t like others calling them “stuck in their ways.” Instead of focusing on the differences, realize that everyone generally wants the same things: advancement, fair treatment, and competitive salaries. 

You can combat this by creating a positive and inclusive culture. To help people feel connected, host company-wide events that allow team members to get to know each other on a personal level. 

Check out Chris White’s TedxTalk that highlights 3 ways to create a work culture that brings out the best in employees.

Implement a Mentoring Program

As more Millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce, 84% of businesses expect an actual shortage of qualified leaders. To help strengthen leadership, consider implementing a corporate mentoring program that allows executives and emerging leaders to connect and learn from each other. Mentoring will help shape your employees’ skills and increase retention rates.

Bridging the Generational Gap in the Workplace

If you’re feeling a strain in your sales organization, it’s essential to identify what generational differences are at play. Your employees want to feel valued and accepted by their fellow peers. If you can help bridge the gap, you can create a positive environment where everyone builds relationships built on personal preference instead of age. Ready to unify your sales team to optimize growth? Get started with Televerde today.

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