Why A Cross-Generational Approach Is The Key To The Future

Most manufacturing workforces are currently made up of ‘baby boomers’ (those born between 1946 and 1964). They have extensive knowledge and experience, but this begs the question: what happens when they retire? A soaring skills gap could well be on the cards.

However, if you act now, you can harness their expertise for future generations. Kerryanne Joyce, Development Specialist at award-winning whisky manufacturer The Glenmorangie Company, explains why a cross-generational approach is absolutely crucial.

Understanding the different generations

‘Gen Z’ (those born between 1995 and 2015) and ‘millennials’ (people born between 1980 and 1994) are not the same as your existing team. They have different needs and expectations . Traditional hierarchical structures that worked with baby boomers and ‘Gen X’ (those born between 1965 and 1979) simply won’t work with the new people coming into your business. They require support networks.

With the right conditions, patience and nurturing, they can reach their full potential. That means you need to create a secure learning space that focuses on human connections. Because to please the younger generation, you need to home in on what they crave: inspiration, purpose, challenge and a work-life balance.

It’s essential you understand what this generation is about – not just in order to connect with them, but to ensure that older generations can effectively transfer their knowledge to them.

Reigniting passion with knowledge sharing

I think you’ll have seen this multiple times – maybe you’ve even experienced it on a personal level. Someone will come into a job and be incredibly enthusiastic; they want to learn, progress and develop. But, within a few years, this engagement has plateaued. Perhaps they’ve even forgotten the expertise that they hold.

These people are, in fact, subject matter experts – and their knowledge needs to be shared with those just starting out in your business. It presents a twofold opportunity: training allows your baby boomers’ passion for their specialist area to be ignited, whilst your newcomers get to learn the crucial know-how and skills for the future.

Through best-practice sharing, you’ll see your existing employees’ engagement increase, and a culture of learning and development start to form. The team will establish a strong sense of both emotional connection and community Is Community The New Culture?

Creating cross-development collaboration

Multi-generational collaboration is something that’s worked incredibly well here at The Glenmorangie Company. One of our apprentices, Daniel McGowan, has found it extremely valuable:

“Working with different generations is good as we all bring something different to the table. For example, younger generations are better with technology, and the older generations are good with experience and being able to train people to work safely and efficiently.”

Playing to people’s strengths has triggered positive outcomes for every generation within our business. I’d go as far to say that cross-development collaboration is the key to our success – we even won the Best Practice Sharing award at the CeeD Industry Awards in both 2019 and 2020. By working closely with our HR team, we’ve been able to ensure newcomers like our apprentices effectively align with our mission, vision and values.

I truly believe that the development of people should be a continual part of every culture. So much of learning is done through sharing and building trust. Even just the smallest bit of knowledge sharing can make the world of difference.

Here at the Manufacturing Institute, we think training and education is absolutely vital to ensuring the ongoing success of our industry. That’s why we have a range of courses available.

There’s our lean manufacturing programme to get managers to grips with lean and continuous improvement tools, along with our leadership development course to give leaders the toolkit they need to drive a team to success. We have a variety of Shingo workshops you could benefit from as well.

Find out more about our courses by getting in touch with our team today.

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