Scientific teams are more diverse than ever and are often populated by people of varying ages. Understanding how to modify management styles according to the needs of different generations ensures enhanced group productivity, creativity, and collaboration.
At 41, Joshua Pearce, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, is a member of Generation X. He leads the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab at the university, which includes a multigenerational team of visiting industrial scholars (whose children are older than Pearce), Baby Boomer research staff, and Millennial or Generation Y interns. Over the years, Pearce has gained insight into how to facilitate a more productive and creative ecosystem for everyone—and it starts with acknowledging the value that each generation brings to the team.
Adrienne R. Minerick, 41, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and assistant to the provost for faculty development at Michigan Tech, found that to coordinate a team with professors who are older than her—sometimes by over 30 years—she has to adapt and ensure effective communication.