Shutterstock.com

How to Manage a Multi-Generational Federal Workforce

Get ready for Generation Z—managing four generations in the same organization will be tricky.

This year, Generation Z will account for nearly a quarter of the global workforce and while a good portion are still in elementary school, at 61 million strong (1 million more than Millennials), organizations are preparing now for the impending impact. Between the focus on developing a “workforce of the future” in the president’s management agenda and the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey driving increased engagement, agencies are doing more to transition the workforce from what the administration calls  the “relic of an earlier era” to one suited for the 21st century. 

As this younger generation enters the federal and private sector, we can expect a few things: 1) greater pressure on supervisors to integrate a new generation of workers; 2) increased tension and intergenerational divide between colleagues (e.g. #OKBoomer); and 3) an emphasis on management programs, like coaching, to empower and up-level generations in their specific capacities. 

For those supervisors looking to prepare, here are three things you can do now to successfully manage a multi-generational workforce: 

1. Understand each generation and their expectations at work.

Millennials have been the most studied generation of our time, allowing organizations to develop Millennial-friendly workplaces prioritized by money, security, time off and flexible work arrangements. And while it’s easy to assume that Gen Z will be similar to millenials, that would be a mistake. 

My company recently surveyed 1,000 Gen Z workers (ages 18-23) to understand what their expectations were for the workplace, and we found that 75% believe they should get a promotion within a year of working, 60% aspire to management positions of their own, and more than 75% say a boss’s ability to coach is important.

But it’s important for supervisors to understand how every generation of workers perform best. From our research, we’ve found that Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face communication while Generation X opts for email, and Millennials and Gen Zers want quick, brief communication through the latest technology. Baby boomers see recognition as motivation, while Gen X needs a variety of stimulating projects to stay motivated. Gen Z thrives when their competitive spirit is engaged and Millennials work best in a team setting. It’s worth taking the time to understand each cohort’s needs, preferences and expectations to help each group thrive. 

2. Manage the intergenerational divide by emphasizing strengths. 

With the influx of Gen Z comes a new challenge of managing four generations in the workplace. While this intergenerational divide is happening in society, online (#OKBoomer) and at work, the 2-million strong federal civilian workforce might be the group dealing with this great divide the most once Gen Z enters its workforce.  According to the Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), most federal employees, about 43%, come from Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980). They are followed by the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964). Traditionalists, born in 1945 or earlier, make up 1% of the federal population, and Millennials born in 1981 or later comprise 21% of the total federal workforce.

While that number doesn’t account for Gen Z yet, the same survey found that 25% of federal government employees plan on retiring in the next five years, paving the way for a fourth generation of workers to join the ranks. 

More than 75% of happy employees believe their manager focuses on their strengths, so when you’re trying to assimilate multiple generations, start by seeing the good. For instance, our research found that each generation has a core work value that motivates them (and should be celebrated). Baby boomers value success and loyalty, Gen X values time and productivity, for Millennials it’s individuality and contribution and for Gen Z the core work values are inclusion and opportunity. No matter which generation you work with, empowering them with freedom and feedback is crucial. 

3. Unify generations through coaching practices.

While 75% of managers agree that managing different generations is difficult, it’s doable through coaching. 

One way to implement coaching is with the GROW®️ model—Goal, Reality, Options and Way Forward. First, employees establish a clear goal they want to accomplish. Next, they work with managers to understand what reality they are working within—whether there are restraints due to deadlines, budgets, or personnel, and any other limitations they should be aware of. Then, employees look at all their options within that reality, and finally, they come up with a way forward.

This model helps prevent micromanagement, which will cause certain generations to push back, and instead helps employees come up with their own solutions to problems. 

As federal agency supervisors prepare for the influx of Gen Z, the greatest piece of advice might be to start developing yourself as a coach. That way, when you’re dealing with four generations of workers in one room, your instinct will be to give them the freedom and support they need to excel individually, and in turn, as a whole. 

Bill Bennett is the CEO of InsideOut Development, a workplace coaching company that provides management training programs for Fortune 500 companies. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.