Every generation has a place in the workplace. All are able to get the job done, only in different ways. Each generation comes equipped with their own styles of work and though different, all styles are proven to be effective. So what does this mean when generations come together in the workplace? Where do they fit in? Can they fit together?
- Vets born 1922-1943
- Baby boomers born 1944-1960/65
- Gen X born 1960/65-1980
- Gen Y born 1980 +
3 Steps to a Successful Combination of Generations
A common problem in the workplace is the inability generations have to understand and adapt to one another. Blending generations in the workplace is a beneficial venture for both generations and the company they work for. There are three essential steps to take when attempting to blend generations.
Transfer knowledge: It is common practice for older generations to retire without ever having transferred their knowledge to the younger generation responsible for taking their place.
As a leader of the company it is important to instill within your employees of both generations the importance of learning from one another. Make it clear to the younger generation that they need to listen to and learn from the older generation as it will only prove to be an advantage to them. Require the older generation to pass down their knowledge and encourage them to be open to sharing their tried and true skills.
* Leave generational stereotypes at the door: Establishing a healthy line of communication amongst generations helps to break down the age barrier between them. Once the difference in age is no longer a factor, co-workers are better able to focus on how to work with one another to create a successful outcome.
* Enhance One Another’s Strengths: Each generation thinks they bring their own strengths to the table. Even if this is true, each generation must encompass a willingness to learn the strengths of others and embrace them. Once this door has been opened, each generation can build off of one another’s strengths and aid in making up for their weaknesses.
Understanding Generational Attitudes
* Vet’s: Show company loyalty, strong sense of ethics, conservative
* Baby Boomers: Diligent, show comfort in stable work environments, portray company loyalty, embrace leadership in terms of hierarchy
* Gen X: Independent, self-motivated, self-sufficient, puts emphasis on self-satisfaction/hard work, show concerns for balance of work/life, challenge way of individual development
* Gen Y: Educated, articulate, possess high level of technical skills, individual, comfortable within global village
Understanding the Risk of Mismanaged Multi-Generations in the Workplace
Conflict can arise in the workplace if the integration of generations is not properly managed. Conflict has an overwhelming affect on the performance of the business and can contribute to a downward spiral. It is important for employers to take the initiative when it comes to managing cross-generations. Try the following:
* Succession planning
* Accommodate different generational views
* Implement conflict resolution amongst varying perspectives (commitment, respect, work/life balance, efficiency, independence)
To keep mixed generations happy and working together in a productive manner, it is important to embrace their differences. Older generations can be utilized to mentor and support younger, less experienced generations. Due to their years of experience, older generations are very capable of foreseeing and diagnosing issues before they morph into problems or crisis situations. This method of integration opens a line of communication where different opinions can be expressed. An exchange of opinions allows one generation to compliment the next by combining new ideas with wisdom. Furthermore, this leads to the building of a bridge between the gaps in generations.
~ Written by Gary Sorrell, Sorrell Associates, LLC.
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