From my experience in managing people over the years, I have found that it requires different styles and varying triggers to manage and motivate people from different age groups or stages in their careers. I like to divide people into the groups based on stages in their careers and age groups – where age is just an indicative number but the stages are more important, similar to how the 2*2 customer matrix I had built to help choose your customers. This is important in two respects – first, from the angle of managing people and understanding their drivers and second, for people to understand themselves better in these various stages.
Based on my experience, the following is the criteria I have kept in mind to create groups and how I deal with them:
The best way to manage them is to deeply understand what drives their motivations and behaviors and create opportunities and challenges according to what works best for them. I’d like to reiterate that the age groups are just indicative, but it is more important to look at it from the perspective of the stage of their career.
Group 1: 20-28 years
For those just starting out in their careers when they come out of college, this group has a higher financial freedom and is relatively easier to manage. Their motivation comes from interesting and challenging work and learning and experimenting. Therefore, loyalty might not be one of their strong points as they are at a stage in which they have high risk taking abilities. It is key to keep them engaged and challenged. It is likely that this group speaks out for more challenging work. Also at this stage, switching paths will have a cost in rebuilding networks/connections which will not help in their own professional growth.
Group 2: 28-34
At around 28, the pace tends to pick up. They are faced with high levels of peer pressure and this is when they need to learn how to handle and manage this pressure. They need to make the “right” choices in terms of what job they want to do and where they want to do it. This phase is crucial to the next step in their careers, so they tend to focus on learning and preparing themselves for that next step. On the personal front, they might look towards settling down and investing in a house so they begin to lose the financial freedom they had in their earlier years.
It is important to focus on preparing these individuals for the long term by providing and encouraging training as well as focus on managing their financial situation by investing in long term investments – both personally as well as professionally.
Group 3: 34 – 42
Once the pace has picked up, it doesn’t take long to move into a gallop. They are compelled to compete and are thrown head first into extreme peer pressure. There is even less financial freedom at this point in their careers and might be faced with the fear of losing their job coupled with high levels of debt. Simultaneously, they might have started a family and will have less time to focus on their careers as they have added responsibilities at home. It is much harder to take risks at this stage and if they are not managed well, it could become a disaster period for their careers. On the other hand, if they are managed well, it could be the most successful period of their careers.
It is at this point when you can tell the differences between individuals who might have started out together after college. Some mature into true leaders while other might see that their pace of growth begins to decline.
In managing this group, it is important to learn how to handle the pressures they are faced with. Encourage them to balance their family and work and keep a good pace for a steady growth.
Group 4: 42 – 48
After the crucial galloping stage, individuals tend to cool down. They are easier to work with and focus on enjoying work rather than focusing on titles, growth and the rat race in general. They thrive on recognition and rebalance their priorities. By now, they have lower financial and family pressure causing their confidence to increase.
Group 5: 49+
From a slower pace in the previous stage, individuals tend to move into cruise control mode. They are at the peak of their maturity and capabilities. They are much less compelled to compete and prefer to focus their energies on the greatest possible contributions to society and people.
Do you agree with the general categorizations? Is there another way you look towards either motivating your team in the different stages of their careers?