Managing different generations at work - Alessandra Piovesana

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am

Alessandra Piovesana
Regional managing director - North Asia, Nuance-Watson (HK)


Retail is a people-led business. To succeed in retail, we need to understand and respect the fact individuals have different values, ideas and ways of communicating. In our airport retail business, we are managing differences in cultures, languages, aspirations, needs and preferences among different nationalities daily. Each nationality has distinct attitudes, behaviour, perceptions, expectations, values, motivations, habits, and so does each generation of employees.

At work, generational differences might cause misunderstandings, employee turnover, difficulty in attracting employees and gaining employee commitment. If we are able to communicate and manage the differences, we can eliminate many major confrontations and misunderstandings, and increase productivity and quality of work.

Understand the needs

Open communication is the first step. It is imperative to cultivate an open-minded corporate culture and ensure two-way open channels of communication. It's important to create a positive and caring work environment.


Nuance-Watson (HK) has a unique model as part of the broad scheme of understanding employees and helping them to understand themselves as well as their customers. It is called 'Insight Discovery Colour Profile', which is an assessment of an individual's work environment strengths and weaknesses based on responses to a questionnaire.

After completing the questionnaire, the individual will discover his/her profile characterised by a distinctive colour and associated with corresponding behaviour traits and tips for communicating. For instance, 'Cool Blue' represents objective and detached, 'Earth Green' is calming and soothing. It is a tool we use in creating a Personal Development Plan, supporting ongoing coaching programme, mixing and managing employees within the team to ensure optimal performance. It's one of the 'soft' tools which lifts barriers and creates closeness.