There’s never been a time in history like today where four generations have worked together alongside each other. As a team leader, that can present you with many challenges since your team could be comprised of older Traditional and Baby Boomer generation members right alongside Generation X and Y team members. If you don’t manage the relationships properly, the generation gap between your team members could seem as large as the Grand Canyon.
Here’s the problem. Younger team members often think the older ones are way too stodgy, rigid and stuck in their way of doing things. Older team members think the “new kids on the block” should pay their dues, hunker down and work hard, and quit expecting to be thanked just for showing up at work.
How do you find a happy medium and use the strengths of your team members to accomplish your team goals? Understanding what they want will go a long way in helping you make everyone a star.
For Traditionalist and Baby Boomers that means:
- Feeling important — they are the “stars” of the organization
- Being treated fairly
- Seeing that their knowledge is valued
- Allowing them to talk about and show you what they know
Gen X and Gen Y are looking for:
- Constant learning and growth
- Flexibility to try new things
- Access to information and people
- Ways to link what they do to the bigger goals of the company
So here are some suggestions for you.
- Pair up older team members who can be mentors to the younger crowd. The generations can learn a lot from each other. Carefully connect team members together — allowing older workers to share and younger members to learn.
- Listen with an open mind. Provide the young people on your team with a method for sharing their ideas. Give them the freedom — with loose boundaries — to try out their ideas in a safe environment.
- Help them understand the value. Have regular group discussions about how the team, and individual contributions have helped the organization achieve its goals. Make sure and celebrate small and large successes along the way.
What tips would you add for ensuring that the convergence of four generations in the workplace taps the strengths of all team members? Let’s talk about it.