Today’s leaders must be able to manage the gray.

In preparation for the 2018 season, the Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, and Nationals all replaced veteran managers with younger skippers.

The differences in age were dramatic.

The five managers ranged from eight to 26 years younger than their predecessors.

Some had no major league managing experience.

According to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, “the ability to connect with young players and a comfort with analytics rose above experience.”

These new managers were better at relating to the latest generation of players.

One of them was 42-year-old Alex Cora who led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series title in his first year at the helm. He is currently managing the team in the American League Championship Series.

This move by traditionally conservative baseball owners should be a wake-up call for today’s leaders.

With the introduction of Generation Z (born starting in 1997) coming into the workplace, we now have an unprecedented five generations at work.

Generation Z joins the largest group, Millennials, followed by Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Matures.
It is not uncommon for today’s leaders to have team members that span 60 years from oldest to youngest.

Speaking from experience, my father-in-law, Fred Wills, is 90 years old. Till he was 89, Fred worked three days a week for the Town of Shelton, Connecticut.

The ability to relate and connect across these generations is vital. Each of the five generations brings its own unique expectations and needs. Managing across the generations is the focus of the Gray Goldfish.

Sticking with our initial theme of baseball, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Madden believes that effective leadership and culture starts with relationships.

In his words, “Strong relationships lead to trust and trust leads to the willingness to exchange thoughts and ideas. That foundation breeds success.”

For today’s leaders, the idea of managing teams that include five different generations is new territory.

According to Carol Hymowitz in The Wall Street Journal,

“That means they must create opportunities for young employees to advance (or risk losing them) while also making sure veterans, whose skills they need in today’s tight labor market, don’t feel overlooked. And to maintain productivity and innovation, they must persuade employees of disparate ages to collaborate.”

Takeaway: To avoid “The Great Resignation,” today’s leaders must engage across the generations and effectively navigate the gray.

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Stan Phelps walks the walk. He stands out in the sea of sameness by modeling his own Differentiated Experience (DX) message: Differentiation isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do and, more importantly, how and why you do it. Stan leverages his unique collection of 5,000+ case studies on customer, employee, and brand experience to engage audiences with informative learning-based experiences. He believes purposeful DX wins the hearts of employees and customers, and differentiation ultimately boosts loyalty, retention, referrals, and results.

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