Think of the possibility of working with multiple generations as an opportunity, not an impediment.

Today’s multi-generational workforce offers unique opportunities and challenges to management. Each generation brings their own unique strengths to the table, but as millennials are reaching an age where they’re being promoted to management positions, the potential for work disagreements is high.

Mature man with his son in their artisanal handicraft traditional textile factory

The older workers, often characterized as Baby Boomers, bring with them decades of experience. Generation X workers (those born from the early 1960s to the late 1970s) feel that they’ve paid their dues and are ready to assume leadership positions. The wrinkle lies in the fact that many companies are desperately in need of technology skills to boost collaboration and increase flexibility, which are often solved by moving millennials into more leadership roles. This disruption in the typical meritocracy of the org chart can cause a problem to breed within your company.

While there are still plenty of opportunities for all generations in the workplace, it’s critical that companies adapt by integrating proper training, mentoring, and support to help prevent any conflict from arising between different generations.

Ways to promote collaboration and understanding across generations in the workplace

1. Always set clear expectations

Creating diverse working groups with members across generations, all working towards one common goal can be beneficial, but it’s critical to empower your employees to navigate their own strengths and differences to meet the end goal.

Managers of multi-generational workforces have a larger pool of talent to pull from, who all have a varying amount of strengths and skills. It’s up to management to set expectations in such a way that all workers are empowered, which can be a challenge at times.

Each member of your organization, regardless of their age, should be encouraged to operate at their own optimal level. This means intimately understanding your workforce and designing a roadmap that incorporates the role of everyone on your team.

2. Approach each situation with understanding and awareness

Awareness is key to preventing and addressing conflict in the workplace, especially as it relates to differences in style, communication and how technology can benefit or hinder members of each generation.

When it comes to the Baby Boomer generation, communication is key. Many of them remember the days where typewriters were used and long letters were written to address major issues. Gen-Xers typically relied on email as a form of communication. Millennials, on the other hand, look at in-depth communication as more of a distraction than a necessity. Think about the speed with which they text or respond to others on social media platforms. Their communication style is typically much shorter and to the point, which can be a challenge when dealing with older workers who are more accustomed to dialogue.

Navigating these cultural and generational differences requires training and mentoring to help smooth over any generational differences to ensure each person understands why the other person is acting a certain way.

3. Look for ways to leverage strengths of workers across generations

Communicating and collaborating across generations is difficult, but attainable if managed properly. The goal is for all groups and personalities to be able to work together in groups, and the key to success is to identify the strengths of each generation and use them properly.

Transparency is key in these instances, and it’s something that millennials typically happily embrace. This younger generation is used to updating the world about their inner most wants and desires through social media, so they’re typically on board with being completely transparent, sometimes to a fault, in the workplace. This transparency, if managed properly, can be used as a way to bridge the gap between Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.

MessageOps has experience promoting collaboration between generations

We’re constantly working with companies who have a workforce that spans multiple generations. We’ve amassed a number of tips, some of which we’ve included in this blog, that we happily share to encourage a positive work environment for all.

For more information on the workplace technology that can help foster collaboration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

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