In the 80s classic, Chevy Chase plays a Los Angeles Times undercover reporter named Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher. Posing as a junkie, Fletch is working on an article exposing drug trafficking on the beaches of Los Angeles. His editor Frank is pressing him to run the story.

Fletch: “Can’t do that, Frank. Fat Sam isn’t the story, there’s a source behind him.”

Frank: “Who?”

Fletch: “Well, there where we’re in kind of a gray area.”

Frank: “How gray?”

Fletch: “Charcoal”

The lesson is that in life… and leadership, there isn’t always a clear-cut path.

When you lead people who, because of their generation, perceive the world very differently, there is no black-and-white approach to success. You’ll have to use a variety of techniques to overcome challenges and get the most from your employees.

A one-size-fits-all approach is a recipe for disaster because your employees approach their work differently. This holds true even for an organization with just one generation, much less one with five. You’re going to have to navigate plenty of gray areas to find the approach that works best.

Gray is a color often associated with something nondescript or unremarkable. We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but that’s how most employees view their leadership team. In our book “Gray Goldfish – Navigating the Gray Areas to Successfully Lead Every Generation,” Brian Doyle and I share some alarming stats:

– Forbes tells us that 63% of employees don’t trust their leaders.

– Gallup completed a study saying a staggering 87% of employees are not engaged (and leadership plays at least a passing role in that).

– Accor/Edenred states that 90% of companies think an engagement strategy will improve business success.

To foster trust and engagement, you need clear, actionable approaches to win over every generation in your workforce. Creating strategies specific to your employees and your situation.

Does it really matter if you engage all five generations of employees in your company? The Korn Ferry Institute would suggest it does. Their study determined that firms that engage and enable their employees achieve up to 4.5x more revenue growth than companies that don’t. Research by Kenexa echoed this stat, saying companies that have highly engaged employees earn 2x the net income of companies that don’t.

Think about those stats. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small organization or a large one, doubling your revenue and net income is huge! And, if you want to create a new product or service, just connect with your employees—every generation, not just yours—so that they are engaged with their work.

“Gray Goldfish” provides guidance on each generation and 50 tips (a blatant nod to 50 Shades). Here is one of those tips:

TIP #7 CHECKING IN (from the Chapter on Recruiting and Onboarding)
Check-in early and often as you onboard new employees. For example, when employees join Davies PR, they are given a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month, and a one-year review to ensure they get a “Best Start” at Davies. After the first year at the company, employees receive annual 360-degree reviews in which they are assessed by their co-workers.