A fervent tug of war is taking place between generations in the workplace.
This is not the first time it’s happened, and it certainly won’t be the last, but the struggles that each generation of workers faces is somewhat unique.
The burden that millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers now collectively bear is a world that seems to be changing at a much faster pace.
However, it’s important to remember that although there are major differences between how millennials and their older counterparts get things done—and that those differences have the potential to cause some contention—both parties bring valuable assets to the table.
Having a diverse workforce benefits everyone, but not if your team is wasting time on intergenerational conflicts. Uniting your employees is an important part of building an effective team and making the most of the unique talents offered by each team member.
Here are three things you and other leaders in your organization can do to help bridge this gap.
1. Work Hard to Bring People Together
Employees of different generations won’t often seek out opportunities to spend time together.
This makes it even more important for you to fight the temptation to group people together with their like-minded coworkers when working on group projects.
Assigning a team of diverse employees to work on a project together is beneficial in the short run because you get a variety of insights on how to tackle problems.
It’s also beneficial in the long run because it helps members of different generations connect and form relationships with one another that will make it easier for them to work together in the future.
There are plenty of other ways to bring your multigenerational employees together. Planning frequent team-building activities allows your employees opportunities to get to know each other and work together on low-pressure tasks.
Shifting desk assignments may encourage workers to speak with members of the team who they haven’t had much interaction with previously.
2. Encourage Communication
Encouraging good communication between coworkers and leaders is a positive way to begin deconstructing some of the negative feelings that employees from different generations may have about one another.
Millennials often view the older generations as stubborn and out of touch, while older generations perceive millennials as entitled and impatient. These harmful stereotypes get in the way of the mutual respect required for coworkers to collaborate and work together most effectively.
Make it a priority for the leaders in your company to be aware of the issues that may exist between employees due to their generational differences.
Encourage your employees to report on what’s working—and what’s not. Collect data on employee engagement and complaints, and use it to better understand the unique challenges faced by your workforce. This can be done easily through computer surveys or by having managers check in with their employees from time to time.
3. Provide Effective Coaching
Another hurdle to overcoming generational differences is properly integrating new millennial employees into the company’s culture and engaging them fully, two things that millennials generally list as highly important in the workplace.
A good coaching program will help millennial team members better understand how they fit into the company’s big picture. It will also help them gain confidence in their job duties.
Helping the millennial generation thrive in your workforce will benefit them as well as your veteran employees, which will create a more productive and enjoyable place to work for everyone.
Eric is A Senior Vice President for CMOE and specializes in custom learning and development solutions, sales and marketing, and performance coaching. His work in organization development has led him to facilitate workshops on Strategic Thinking, Coaching Skills, Building High Performance Teams, Managing Conflict, Personal Effectiveness, and Leadership Principles. Eric’s expertise is in communication, relationship building, management, marketing, and advertising.
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