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7 min read

In a restaurant, you likely have employees from numerous different generational periods. Differing generations work differently and need different things to succeed. Today we will take a look at commonalities within generations and how to manage them more effectively.

Before I start, I want to remind that breaking down employees into generation groups can be helpful, but not everyone in these groups is going to share these beliefs. The generational differences are just commonalities not guarantees and you should always view each individual personality differently and find what really works for each employee.

Further, the year

born that defines each generation is lose. Many typically combine Gen Y and Millennials into the same category however I have split them up as I think the have a few larger differences that set them apart.

That said, here is a guide to the commonalities within generations.

Baby Boomers (Born 1943-1960)

Boomers are typically very hard working and are not afraid to work long hours. They are also typically very loyal. Starting at a time in American history where you could work for the same company for your entire career, dedication and loyalty were rewarded with pensions and stability. This generation is familiar with the corporate hierarchy and believe that through hard work and dedication you can work your way to the top. They respond well to clear detailed processes and typically cause few problems. Their biggest grievance is when they see others that they believe are not working as hard as them or pulling their weight.

Gen X (Born 1961-1981)

Similar to the boomers Gen X-ers believe that you need to pay your dues to get ahead or to voice your opinion. They sometimes will favor work life over home life, but not typically as far as boomers. X-ers are typically very independent as they grew up with parents that worked frequently and thus had to do many things themselves. In this way, Gen X-ers are thorough and hardworking by themselves but may struggle a bit more when put as part of a team. Further X-ers can be skeptical and see good parts and bad parts of most situations. They tend to question new ideas or processes. Explaining the ‘why’ when introducing new procedures may help to get Gen X-ers on board.

Gen Y (Born 1982-1995)

As mentioned earlier, I feel Gen Y is different than millennials. While those from Generation Y have a familiarity with technology it wasn’t as ingrained into every part of life as it was for millennials. Gen Y-ers typically tend to pull in the skepticism of Gen X-ers. They like to question things. However, Gen Y-ers will typically speak up more frequently regardless of how long they have worked at a company. They like to give their opinions to help improve processes, but it can oftentimes come off as pompous or entitled.

Generation Y tends to be results-based, but they look for processes to do work instead of the hard grind that boomers do, this can often be viewed as laziness. A Gen Y-er may spend an hour to develop a system that does a 8 hour job in half the time and then, in essence, slack off the other half. The end result is the same, but the period of time spent not working is often punished. Gen Y-ers will typically seek out employers that are more focused on results regardless of process over those that require strict process or set hours.

When dealing with Generation Y, give them the result you are looking but not the process and let them use the process that works best for them.

Millennials (Born 1995-2005)

Often called the trophy-generation, many view millennials as entitled or lazy. However, they grew up in a time where they were less independent than their parents. As work-life balance started to shift, parents were able to spend more time at home and less at work. This lead to less independence in the millennial generation. Accordingly, millennials tend to appreciate and work well in teams. They like to share ideas, but like Gen Y-ers can sometimes come off as arrogant or may say things at inappropriate times. Millennials typically mean well with suggestions but may not understand the whole background or complexity of their position.

Millennials like flexibility and technology and like to work with new systems or processes. They are some of the quickest to adapt to changes, but will likely give you feedback at every step of the way, regardless of if you want it or not.

Millennials also seek out and want a purpose or a cause behind their employment. They will work for a company that has a story and position they believe in. They may work for less salary for a company they share a purpose with than a company that pays more but one in which they cannot connect with the brand philosophy.

Connect with millennials by giving detailed praise and discipline. Simply saying ‘good job’ or ‘you need improvement’ may not be enough to satisfy. To keep millennials successful be as detailed as possible on both compliments and discipline and give a clear path to improvement, and you shouldn’t struggle too much.

Managers Adapting Not Employees

Now that we have looked at the different generations in the workforce, it’s important to remember that you are likely not going to change one generation to think like another generation. Nor should you try. Instead, it is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that they themselves are adapting to each different generation. It’s the managers responsibility to discover what works best for each employee, not the other way around.

While an emailed work schedule or even a scheduling app may appeal to millennials and even generation Y. Gen X-ers and especially boomers may view this as unnecessary and annoying. In this case, a printed or posted schedule in addition to a digital copy can help to please all generations.

Cross Utilizing

One helpful way to improve your organizational health while appealing to multiple generations is to cross utilize employees. Have a boomer or gen x-er mentor a millennial. The boomer should show the step by step processes and share their extensive knowledge. The millennial can then teach the boomer about a new system or technology that will ease processes. Together both employees can improve.

It can be difficult to manage a variety of employees spread across multiple generations. However, by understanding generational differences, you should be able to adapt your management style and processes in and way that only makes your entire restaurant better.