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Empowered Enrollment: Making the Most of Multigenerational Teams 

Bill Stamats

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“ Every generation adds value. ”

The 2022 NAGAP GEM (Graduate Enrollment Management) Summit was held in Chicago and wrapped up on April 23. This year’s conference focused on a crucial and timely theme: Change Management.  

Especially, post-Covid, change management is on the minds of every business and organization. How do we re-engage employees, adapt to a marketplace that’s still rebounding, better prepare for the future, and connect with broader and more diverse audiences?  

One session really hit home for me: Enrollment Managers: Exploring Support and Development for Baby Boomer Staff was presented by Sarah Wanger, Director of Admissions, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business. Though we may not think about it, many graduate enrollment management teams are comprised of Millennial leaders and Baby Boomer direct reports. Sarah’s session examined this unique relationship dynamic and offered valuable insights on how to cultivate team talent―regardless of age norms―through respect, trust, and reciprocal mentorship.  

To tap into the special skills and talents of Baby Boomer staff, Sarah’s research suggested that Millennial supervisors: 

1. Pay attention to incongruent workplace expectations.

Bring out the best in each team member by focusing on the individual. Without sacrificing an older employee’s status, consider practical ways to modify projects, workload, and turnaround times as needed. Also, examine what accommodations could be made to help older employees adapt to the cognitive and physical effects of aging.

2. Craft individualized plans for professional development.

Each employee comes with a unique work history, skill set, and career plan. Instead of applying a one-size-fits-all professional development program, consider how you can customize your team members’ professional journeys.

3. Be mindful of historical context and Boomer professional background.

Explore ways to integrate Boomers’ professional accomplishments into new roles and build on current skills by investing in personalized training. Encourage decision-making at every level of your team and empower older employees to take the lead on projects.

4. Take time to listen and establish relationships.

Listening is the heart of every good personal and professional relationship. Take time to understand the unique perspective, skills, and insights that Baby Boomer staff members bring to the table. 

5. Anticipate fears and insecurities.

Since Boomers aren’t digital natives, some may feel intimidated by new, quickly-integrated technology. Extend training windows for Boomers and maintain an open dialogue so that workplace challenges are addressed proactively and with sensitivity.

6. Build awareness of change management strategies to gather buy-in and provide support

Change is a universal stressor. Reduce its negative effects by preparing teams early, working together on decision-making, and fostering a spirit of cooperation and mutual support. Broad buy-in not only creates a more positive team atmosphere, it empowers every change management strategy.  

At the root of this session is a core truth: Every generation adds value. In spite of rapid changes in technology, communication tools, and marketing trends, some insights are timeless and universal. But engaging all team members must be intentional―driven by a culture that values and elevates all perspectives. 

At Stamats, we understand the constancy of change. Every day we help institutions of all sizes respond to the dynamic higher education marketplace and build more sustainable futures. Email us to get started today.

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