collaborate with every generation.

  • career advice
  • October 03, 2017

A diverse and inclusive workforce is more important than ever, and effectively managing different generations within the workplace can create significant advantages for companies. With five generations working together in many organizations, chances are you are part of a team, or support a team, with workers spanning a range of ages. People from diverse backgrounds and who think differently can be a great benefit to companies, allowing the business to be more innovative and successful. However, sometimes differences in the values, communication styles, work habits and expectations of each generation can derail effective collaboration and teamwork.

Not only does creating effective work relationships improve your own day-to-day job satisfaction, but it can also be critical to your career outlook. That’s why we’ve compiled these tips to help you master collaboration with other generations and serve as a role model for your organization.

learn and embrace generational backgrounds.

What makes each generation so different is the world in which they grew up, which has shaped their values, beliefs and, of course, workplace behaviors and styles. By learning the distinct backgrounds of each generation, you can quickly gain greater respect and understanding for what they — and you — bring to the table. Plus, you can help avoid conflicts that arise from these deep-seeded values.

examples:

  • Baby Boomers value hard work, ethics and loyalty; they can also be very competitive. Millennials are known for job-hopping and valuing performance over length of the workday; they would prefer to work in jobs that fit their lifestyles than those that pay more.
  • Baby Boomers have a wealth of knowledge and business savvy that younger workers need. Generation X employees are widely known for their mediation skills and independent thinking. Millennials are technology wizards and highly energetic, while Gen Z holds clues to future workplace and business trends.
  • Millennials and Gen Zers will opt for a tweet, while Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers will choose more traditional means, such as a phone call, email or even in-person visit. Younger workers often use abbreviations or other informal language which may be confusing and seem inappropriate to older workers.

forge a personal connection.

Even if you’re not in the same chapter of life as your co-workers or manager, you can still show an interest in their lives. Ask about their families or hobbies, work experience and career aspirations. This will help you understand them better — what motivates them, how they learn and like to communicate, and what matters most to them — all of which will help you work together better. You can also be proactive and suggest team-building exercises or outings to help balance an over-digitized environment. 

avoid negative stereotyping.

Not every 20-something loves Snapchat, and not every Baby Boomer is confused by instant messaging. Ignoring negative stereotypes is the first step in effective intergenerational collaboration. When you let preconceived ideas about a person get in the way, it becomes more difficult to respect them for the value and unique skills they bring to the table. If you recognize an environment or particular situation where stereotypes are derailing an effective working relationship, try bringing the issue to your manager so that he or she may intervene.

When it comes down to it, you succeed when your team succeeds. Offer your co-workers the respect that you’d like to receive — you will likely learn something new from working for a manager or alongside other people who have different strengths and skills than you.