Move over, millennials! HR experts have discussed how to manage millennials at length in the past decade, lamenting their love of sweet, sweet CBD while championing their ability to work for nearly nothing. But “nae-nae” on over millennials, because there’s a new kid in town and they’re catching everyone’s attention. You guessed it: the Greatest Generation.
The Greatest Generation (a.k.a. those who have waited in line for sacks of oats and crouched in terror during Cold War nuclear bomb drills), is now re-entering the workforce. They’ve been labeled as an exaggerated archetype of millennials: entitled and even more screen-obsessed, so long as Tom Brokaw occupies that screen.
So how do you manage this Greatest Generation cohort? It goes much deeper than the carrot-or-the-stick; after all these people used to get hit by actual sticks when they spoke out of turn.
Fill your pockets with Werther’s Originals and turn on The Lawrence Welk Show, because here’s the skinny on how to jitter the bug in your octogenarian employees.
1. Give them constant feedback, and make it fast. You don’t have very long.
The annual performance review is dying, and so are your Greatest Generation employees.
2. Recognize that each GG-er has grandkids who probably do not call them
Not all Great-Genners have grandkids that don’t call them, but most of them do. Try implementing a “one size fits all” approach when referencing how frustrating it must be that their progeny never calls to thank them for the gift of life or even just to check in to talk about the latest episode of Matlock. That said, the rule of thumb is that most Gre-Gens longingly gaze at their cord-having landline, hoping it will ring so Jeremy can fill them in on how he just won his soccer game or perhaps ask about Okinawa.
3. Be flexible when you find them hiding their money all over the office.
Great-Genners don’t really like banks by nature. As a result, you may hear them muttering about the Federal Reserve or how they don’t trust Alan Greenspan. You may find them stowing away their life savings in the communal fridge, behind the kombucha keg, or even under the agave plant Emily has on her desk. If you press too hard and remind them the company matches up to 4% on 401(k) contributions, you could very easily find yourself losing a good employee.
4. Utilize frequent check-ins about Tom Brokaw
The last thing to remember when it comes to Greaters communication preferences? They want to touch base often, and they want it to be about Tom Brokaw. Like any red-blooded American born who lived through our nation’s darkest days, your oldest team members will appreciate Tom Brokaw references, anecdotes, and asides that center around the longtime NBC Nightly News anchor. And when you give feedback? You better sandwich it between two Tom Brokaw stories, and remember, NEVER mention that job-stealing coquette Katie Couric.