The Demographic Shift, Part II

Managing a multi-generational workforce has been a hot topic for the last several years. There have been studies and analysis of both the perceptions and the realities of Baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials. In part one of this series, we took a look at the different generations that make up today’s workforce and the potential sources of conflict that can come with a multigenerational team. Though we can make broad generalizations about the different generations, it’s important for managers not to get too hung upon those stereotypes.

Generalizations can affect a manager’s ability to drive results, especially among sales teams.  A “typical” salesforce is anything but homogenous – it will be made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities, and each individual will have unique strengths and weaknesses.  If managers start making generalizations about their team members based on age, it will do very little to drive success.

Tips for Managing a Multigenerational Sales Team

Since the beginning of time, there have been conflicts among generations. Older workers see younger workers as lazy and entitled. Younger workers view older team members as stuck in their ways. Managing a diverse sales team has challenges, but if leaders take some time to tailor their approach, it can create a cohesive team that delivers results. Here are some tips to help you create a strong multigenerational sales team:

  • Set clear expectations.  Different generations may perceive standards differently.  Be sure that your expectations for each salesperson are clear, and that you hold everyone to the same sets of consequences and rewards for hitting or missing those expectations.
  • Provide consistent feedback. Millennials crave feedback. They like to know what they’re doing right – and wrong. Boomers and Gen X want the same, but they don’t want to feel micromanaged. Be sure provide consistent feedback, but tailor your delivery method to your employees’ preferences to be sure that it is heard and acted upon.
  • Mix up your meetings. Don’t follow the same structure for all meetings. Incorporate web conferences and calls into to the mix so that each generation has a chance to attend meetings that meet their preferences.
  • Get to know your team personally. In order to get the most from your team, be sure you get to know each sales person on a personal level. Know each person’s short and long term goals, and ask them how you, as a manager, can help them achieve those goals. It also helps to learn how they prefer to communicate with you. Some people are emailers, while others like face-to-face interaction.
  • Set up mentorships. In order to create team cohesion, create mentoring relationships between generations. Each age group can learn something from the other. Millennials can teach baby boomers how to utilize technology effectively, and older generations can share their experience with problem solving and client management.
  • Manage conflict quickly. If there is conflict in your team, handle it head-on. Don’t let resentment and misunderstanding build up.
  • Hold off-site events. Getting your team together outside of work for social gatherings or team building events can help sales people see each other in a new light.

Managing a multigenerational sales team doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you are looking for ways you can improve the performance of your enterprise software sales team, contact Strategic Search Solutions today.

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