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Manage Individuals, Not Groups

I hear some common questions from managers. One of the most common is “how do I manage a group of millennials/Gen Z/Gen X/Boomers/etc.?”

My answer is the same each time - “you don’t!”

You aren’t managing a group of people, you are managing Johnathon, Amanda, and Ahmed.

If you think “this is how Gen Z people think”, and apply it to everyone who fits in that generation, you will make many mistakes. Each and every person has their own distinct personality, their own hopes, dreams, and ambitions, their own motivations.

That is why it is so important to build relationships, so you can get to know each individual. Once you know the individual, you can start to see how they fit together as a team. Until then, generalizing them is not only foolish, it can be insulting.

A classic example that too many people can relate to is asking one person to speak for an entire race, class, gender, or generation. The group of white men who ask the one woman on the team “how do women think?”

FYI - if you want to make someone feel excluded and not comfortable in your group, ask them to speak for an entire group. All you do in that case is show how little you know about them and others like them.

The next time you are trying to figure out how to manage your team, remember that you are managing individuals and trying to get them to perform as a team. Your answer lies in the individuals.

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