Generation gaps can create communication and technology conflicts, but they can also increase creativity and bring different perspectives at work. Bringing together different age groups can be challenging. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2011 poll, 47% of younger workers said that older ones were resistant to change, while 33% of older workers complained that younger ones are too informal and lack respect for authority. Even with those inter-generational challenges, ultimately, you want your team to be smooth-functioning.
Gen X, those born between the late 1960s and early 1980s, and Millennials, those born between mid-1980s and early 2000s, are two generations that work together frequently. When these two groups are working together, conflict can sometime occur. However, whichever group you belong to, here are a few tips that will help you build on each member of your team’s individual’s strengths and hopefully avoid a generational clash.
Be Proactive. Don’t sit around and wait for a conflict to occur. Knowing what different generational employees need is essential. Some workers need more supervision and feedback than others. Gen Xers want freedom, while Millennials want engagement. It’s important to build on strengths in order to have a more efficient practice. Work to gain each employee’s respect and trust.
Don’t Stereotype. Gen Xer’s have been called lazy and self-absorbed, but they are committed workers who are family-oriented and build strong relationships with clients. Millennials are often called uncommitted and disrespectful. In reality, they are technology savvy and very resourceful. While employees in the same generation may possess similar traits or characteristics, each person is an individual and is inherently different. Don’t get hung up on stereotypes. Get to know your employees for the individuals they are and work to their strengths.
Harness Similarities. While the two generations may have many differences, they also have similarities. When conflicts arise, emphasize the similarities. For instance, both Gen X and Millennials have grown up with technology. Also, all employees are working for the same firm and are trying to achieve the same company goals. This is common ground that employees can bond over and bridge any gaps that may arise.
Emphasize Open Communication. Having open communication will not only help to deter conflicts, but also it will help you handle conflict more effectively. Since both Gen X and Millennials use technology frequently, use that interest to create open communication channels. Millennials prefer electronic communication over face-to-face, while Gen Xers value in person communication more. Having a combination of both will be advantageous.
Build Respect. The basis of all work relationships should be respect. Some conflict is inevitable. If respect is there, then the problem can be addressed, and the parties involved can deal with it as adults and move on.
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Incorporating these few techniques to help build team connectedness and intergenerational support will help members of your team get to know one another and work together better. When following these tips, your teams will be high-functioning and you will be responsible for the increased creativity and well-rounded perspectives that your team brings to your leadership’s corporate goals.