Managing Multiple Generations


If you’re like most service industry managers, your employee list might look like a multi-generational family tree. It’s common for operations in our industry to employ people of all different ages and generations. From the teenager who is trying to figure it all out to the soccer mom who needs some extra income to the retiree trying to make ends meet, each of your employees brings a unique set of skills to the table. What each of them needs from you, as a manager, is also unique. Your challenge in bridging the generation gaps is to take the time to zero in on what makes employees tick, and what ticks them off. Let’s take a look at the 3 Rs that will help you be effective at managing multiple generations of employees.

Baby Boomers: Respect

With members of the baby boomer generation working in your store, it all boils down to one single word: respect. Whether they’ve taken a job with you because they’re broke or bored, their life experience has earned them an extra dose of respect.


  • Mutual respect
  • Hands on training
  • Predictable schedule


  • Entitled co-workers
  • Gossipy environment
  • Too much technology

Gen Xers: Reciprocity

You get what you give with this group of employees. Born between 1965 and 1980, these folks are around middle age with a good amount of work experience under their belts. Many are raising families and juggling various responsibilities.


  • Team environment
  • Flexible schedule
  • Training focused on career opportunities


  • Lack of feedback
  • Feeling “dumped on”
  • Overly authoritative management

Millennials: Recognition

If you’ve ever caught yourself asking, “Why don’t they just grow up?” about your younger employees, you’ve got a generation gap problem. No, they’re not getting younger every year — you’re getting older. It is possible to effectively manage the younger generation, but it takes some special techniques.


  • Recognition and praise
  • Light competition and incentives
  • Technology-based training, followed up with consistent mentoring.


  • Hearing about the past…especially yours
  • Workaholism
  • Disparaging comments about their generation’s tastes and styles

Remember the 3 Rs when managing multiple generations: Respect, Reciprocity, and Recognition. Employees of all generations need you to show them some of each of these strategies, some more than others.

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