“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or “They’re the what’s in it for me generation” are phrases we’ve all heard in the workplace. Typically heard standing around the Keurig (water-cooler is so Gen X) usually followed by an eye roll and grumble from all, “They just don’t get it.”
Troubles can arise from different mind sets and communication styles of employees from different generations. It is crucial to effectively address and levy those differences in values and expectations of each generation in order to create a positive company culture.
Reasonably we can create 5 simple strategies to address these differences as to not disadvantage certain workers or broadly stereotype an individual.
1. Support a Communication Style that Avoids Stereotypes – Adapt an open communication style in the ways each person prefers. Some prefer face-to-face communication. While others foster technology driven communications such as emailing or texting. How they use the internet varies as well through generations1. Allow peers to be curious enough to uncover the truth when conflicts arise instead of going with their initial interpretations.
2. Encourage Open Dialogue – Instead of moaning about how each generation in the workplace seems to be so questionable and different, leverage the energy and blend the combined talents and strengths across each group. Take a proactive way of thinking, facilitate mentoring between different aged employees to encourage more cross-generational interaction.
3. Learn From One Another – Appreciating and understanding that there is a great deal to learn from each other is an incredible benefit to all. Learn through and from everyone. Each generation has something to contribute and younger can learn from older2. Same as the older can learn from the younger.
4. Exercise Mission-Based Hiring – Hire people who are enthusiastic about their mission. Employers that do often find generational conflict less of an issue. Employees can navigate topics with a better understanding and find more success, because they share a common creed.
5. Have Clear Expectations – With multiple generations in the workforce, employers have a much larger set of skills and strengths from which to draw. Encourage each generation and each person to operate at their own best level. Accepting and understanding different roles and then designing a process that incorporates each role conveys a trust to its employees. Make sure the emphasis is on what workers are producing and how everyone can contribute to the success of the team.
As Stephen Covey once brilliantly said, “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.3” Should you need help in building a culture that bridges the generational divide feel free to contact 360 Direct to assess how we can help.