Look around you – the workforce has changed in recent years. Now there are as many as four generations of people working together at any given workplace. And, “working together” doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is successfully collaborating and capitalizing on each other’s strengths. Without bridging the generational gap in the workplace, these differences are even more profound.
The truth is, so many different people with distinctive backgrounds working in the same work environment can be very stressful. Sometimes, it can be the source of conflict. Each generation interacts with authority, organization, and colleagues in different ways. Not to mention, they have varying work and management styles.
Bridging the Generational Gap in the Workplace
So, whether you’re a leader or a worker, Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millenial, or the up-and-coming Gen Z, listen up! These tips apply regardless of the generation you associate yourself with.
Here are four key pointers to help bridge the generational gap in the workplace.
1) Get to know your colleagues on a personal level
This seems like a no-brainer. But it is worth a healthy reminder as we’re all likely guilty of it at some point in time.
It’s natural to gravitate towards people you have things in common with, including your age group. Regardless if you’re 25 or 65, getting to know your co-workers will benefit you in the long run. A friendly conversation about family or personal interests can bode well in establishing relationships and seeing each other in a different light. Spend a few extra minutes with those you don’t know well to gain some perspective on where they’re from, their background and what they know.
You never know what you’ll learn!
2) Knowledge is power
More experienced employees have a wealth of knowledge that must be transferred and shared with more youthful employees.
It’s a shame many people retire and walk away with vast amounts of information about an organization and/or technical knowledge and learning related to their job that has never been shared. As a leader, it is important to establish mentorship and knowledge transfer programs that recognize the experience your senior tenured employees have, as well as offer new employees the opportunity to soak in the wealth of experience to successfully do their jobs moving forward.
When there is mutual benefit for both employees, there is a greater opportunity for successful collaboration.
3) Understand each other’s motives, needs and working styles
Every person will have different reasons for choosing a career and job. They will also have particular motives for what they would like to get out of their work each day (i.e. money, altruism, work-life balance, experience, professional challenge etc.).
Each generation and each person is different and offers diverse working styles. Personally survey your team to understand each employee’s motives and build your internal strategic direction, succession planning, and the associated rewards around these employee motivations. The key here is to have effective communication strategies that encourage positive sharing within the workplace.
Share the information within your office. This showcases that every employee is different. It also helps with bridging the generational gap in the workplace. Team members may work and get motivation in varying ways, bringing diverse needs to the table.
(In addition to these four tips for bridging the generational gap in the workplace, you’ll also want to read this post next: Four Rules of Successful Customer Engagement)
4) Capitalize on each other’s strengths
Regardless of the generation you are associated with, every person in your office brings them particular strengths. They have different abilities and skills that differentiate them from their colleagues.
What’s the key to ensuring the age and generation gap does not become a major work obstacle? Ensuring every employee’s strengths are effectively capitalized on and shared within the group. As a leader, it is important to get to know your employees and nurture their abilities, support their professional growth, and harness their creativity to improve the workplace. Strengths should be viewed as beneficial for all concerned and not as threats to other employees.
As a leader, it becomes more and more challenging to manage a diverse workplace. Especially with generations, ethnicity, gender, and many other differences becoming more prevalent. But, diversity brings opportunity and opportunity brings success.
Harness your diversity and capitalize on the unique opportunities it offers your workplace! This includes bridging the generational gap in the workplace and reaping the rewards.
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Did you learn a lot about bridging the generational gap in the workplace?
Here are three to read next:
- Team Engagement – Simple Steps to Make Them Want to Help Your Business
- Sales Team Development: Five Critical Areas You Can’t-Miss
- Does Your Team Know How to Team?
This post was first published in 2014 but we updated it in 2021 just for you.