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Managing a Multigenerational Workforce in the Radiation Oncology Department

By Melissa Castan

Millennials, Gen Z, Boomers... love them or hate them as professionals we all need to work with them. With as many as five generations in the workforce today it is no wonder that generations in the workforce is a hot topic for administrators who run Radiation Oncology Departments.

The theme of the 2019 SROA Annual Meeting was the Power of Connection. Our keynote speaker Kim Lear, a writer and researcher who explores how emerging trends impact the future of our workforce and marketplace and an expert on generations was the perfect kick-off to discuss how we can manage different generations and bring them together.

During her time with SROA, Kim sat down as a guest for SROA Soundboard -- a podcast for radiation oncology administrators. During our conversation, Kim shared lots of great advice for working with and managing the different generations in the workforce today.

Kim shares some of the generational tension in the workplace may come from the idea that "You cannot have what I have unless you went through exactly what I have gone through." This can cause conflict when new generations come in and have different demands and expectations conflict can arise.

Managers may also find that generational issues happen when there is a difference in the way individuals from different generations think.

"When we come up against anything that is different from our own way of thinking one of knee jerk reactions is to say well I'm doing it right, which would mean you are doing it wrong. Instead of approaching it that way it's more productive to approach it with curiosity."

Kim recommends asking questions like:

  • I wonder why are your ideas different than mine.
  • I wonder why some of your priorities are different than what my priorities were at that same age.

Asking better questions, actually having more honest conversations with people who are different from you, whether that's racially, from a gender perspective, generationally, whatever that is. So I think it's just to approach those conversations with more curiosity and understand that it's not just right or wrong, or better or worse, but different people can bring different ideas forward, and all of those ideas can be right.

So how can you bring the generations together in your Radiation Oncology department? Is there a common ground? The good news, according to Kim, yes.  

"People across the board want to feel like they are making an impact." 

It might manifest a little bit differently so good managers should think about:

  1. Understand who are the individuals on my team.
  2. What kind of impact do they want to make?
  3. How can I keep them connected to that?

Kim makes an interesting observation, that managers in healthcare should take note of:

I even find that sometimes in healthcare, it doesn't always make sense, but sometimes healthcare workers are the ones who can be furthest removed from why they do what they do, the real impact they have because it's almost kind of this given. You work in healthcare. There's so much meaning. What you're doing obviously matters, so sometimes, I feel that leaders and managers don't always think it's their responsibility to keep their people connected to that.

In addition to the points about Kim answers questions about the following points:

  • Myths surrounding the multigenerational workforce
  • Why "generations" is a hot topic
  • The reason for generational hazing
  • Why every generation thinks the other generations are wrong
  • Generations and inclusivity
  • How to bridge gaps between generations

Check out SROA Soundboard: Episode 2 -- How to Manage the Multigenerational Workforce with Kim Lear.

Want to re-live Kim's Annual Meeting presentation? Members can login and view the presentation here. Not a member yet? Join SROA today to gain access to great content including past meeting presentations, webinars, our newsletter, and our community SROA Connect.


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