Learning & Development

Can Different Generations Team for Success?

Forget about the friction that may occur when different personalities must work together. Layer on top of that a multigenerational team demographic, and watch things combust.

Or not.
Not if managers know how to get these talented individuals to work well together.
Most managers would agree productive teamwork makes business success more readily achievable. However, for the first time in our country’s history, our workforce compels three generations (Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers) to work side by side. How do managers cope with the fiery issues that arise when these age groups conflict?
Of course, managers want to optimize their employee’s abilities and capacities. It is their job to ensure goals and objectives are met. They long to harness workers’ distinctive skills and qualities in teams to maximize quality and productivity.
One way to preclude managers having to juggle eggs over how to put together successful multigenerational teams is to approach team building with how individual skills complement each other.

‘Complement’: The Operative Word

Here are five tips to guide managers in helping different ages to work together.

  1. It is okay to highlight employees’ diversities, as long as the focus is complementary. For instance, more mature employees may not feel as comfortable with technology as younger workers, but younger workers may lack the experience to consider all the data. In this case, the younger employee instructs the older worker how to use the software, while the mature employee shows the younger employee how to analyze the information.
  2. Allow differences of opinion to work to the team’s advantage. Discussion about new ideas can enrich the whole group, as long as group members stay on topic and address mutual respect. Discussion can often lead to improvements across the board as well as a richer and more valuable understanding of the business and each other.
  3. Some values are worth keeping. While a younger worker may lack the insight to follow protocol, a more experienced worker would understand the nuances of a system and the relationships involved. This is particularly important for businesses with long histories and time-honored practices.
  4. Build bridges instead of roadblocks with mentoring. Set parameters that help employees learn from one another. This encourages positivity in mindset, communication, and problem solving.
  5. Respect tradition and vision, but honor curiosity and new ideas. No one progresses without change. It is a fact of life. While not everyone likes change, and not everyone values new ideas, a workforce without innovative thinking runs the risk of becoming obsolete.

While it is important to understand how a multigenerational workforce is an asset to your business, you should always hire according to your business’s needs. That often means a multigenerational workforce is the best option.

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