Successfully Leading a Multigenerational Workforce

The landscape of leadership in the workplace has never been this daunting. With four, or sometimes five, distinctly different generations working side-by-side, the challenges of communicating with and motivating all of your employees can seem insurmountable.

The reality, however, is that having multiple generations in your workforce can be an incredible advantage to your company. What matters most for the leader is his or her perspective, strengths, and willingness to adapt to the changing landscape of leadership.

While Millennials and the newest Generation to enter the workforce, Generation Z, employees are notably different in their professional preferences and attitudes than their Gen X and Boomer predecessors, they do bring valuable skills to the table. The key to avoiding workplace conflicts and disconnects is to invest the time to understand each generation, including your own, and work to unlock the talent and energy of each generation in alignment with your organization’s vision.

With Millennials making up the greatest percentage of today’s workforce, here are three tips to keep in mind when leading them to their full potential (and without giving them a trophy!):

  • Prioritize flexibility over a rigid structure. Millennials will personalize as much as they can, and their work style is no different. While certain protocols will always have to be maintained, look for ways to allow your Millennial employees to innovate within your structure. Allowing them some flexibility in leading or contributing to organizational change can increase their loyalty and personal satisfaction.
  • Be a mentor or coach but not just a boss. Millennials want someone who can offer more than just discipline. They want someone who will coach and guide them to making the biggest impact possible. This is a win/win for you and your organization.
  • Prioritize progress. Watch out for leaders who get stuck behind “it’s the way we’ve always done it.” Not only does this indicate to a Millennial employee that their new ideas may not be welcomed, but it also sends a message to everyone that you may not be an organization that will be able to adapt to market demands. The ability and willingness to change may be the most important tool in the repertoire of today’s best leaders.

Understanding the mindset of Millennials and each generation unlocks tremendous talent, growth, and energy within your organization. Doing so allows leaders to bridge generational gaps and taps into the advantages that a multigenerational workforce provides to your company.

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Matt Beaudreau has the background and training to be a powerful communicator for bringing generations together. Be sure to attend his keynote session during the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo where he will highlight the strengths, values, and communication styles each generation brings to the workplace and share ready-to-use actions that drive fast results. He can be reached at

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