Today, many companies have at least four generations represented in their workplace. While every employee is undoubtedly unique, certain issues frequently arise due to different generations’ views on work. These disconnects can hinder communication, collaboration, and productivity, harming company operations.
Often, professionals view generational gaps as a problem employers need to address. However, when they impact your ability to work effectively with your colleagues, being proactive and finding solutions is the better choice. It allows you to forge stronger relationships and collaborate efficiently, making the required effort worthwhile.
If you’re dealing with generational gaps, here’s what you need to know.
An Overview of the Generations
Baby Boomers grew up in an era where technology exposure was limited, and many of the workplace tech used commonly today was decades away from being commonplace. Additionally, they have strong beliefs about company loyalty and are highly diligent, and may be incredibly formal at work.
Generation X is incredibly self-reliant, with many being raised during a time with two working parents meant they had little supervision. Often, Gen X members want explicit expectations, though they are more flexible when it comes to feedback.
Millennials are the first “digital generation,” with most growing up with some technology in their home or, at a minimum, exposure during school. Cell phones arrived before most graduated from high school, giving them an innate comfort level there as well. However, Millennials were also shaped by the economic crash in 2008, along with stagnating wages and burdensome student loans, making them more open to changing jobs. They also crave feedback to a degree not seen in previous generations.
Gen Z has high expectations regarding technology in the workplace, often favoring mobile devices above all else. Digital communication – particularly text messaging and messenger platforms – is usually highly favored. This is also the most socially-conscious generation, with most feeling that diversity and inclusion are genuine essentials.
The Impact of Generational Gaps
The reason generational gaps are so problematic is that they’re representative of highly varied upbringings and perspectives. Often, a person’s initial viewpoint is forged at a relatively early age and is often largely set by early adulthood. The experiences, challenges, and success that mark their upbringing shape a significant part of who a person is, and overriding or working past them isn’t as easy as one would think.
With such varying perspectives, multi-generational teams can run into struggles. They may view employment differently, have differing views on feedback and spoken expectations, and might prefer to communicate using approaches others would like to avoid. Ultimately, this breeds frustration. Fortunately, it’s addressable.
How to Build Bridges as Part of a Multi-Generational Team
If you want to bridge the generational gap, there are several effective approaches. The first is remaining flexible in regards to how you communicate. Make use of a range of platforms, ensuring you can engage with colleagues in ways that make them comfortable.
Also, connect with your teammates. Spend time getting to know them as individuals, as that will help you develop a rapport. Plus, it’s a chance to tap each other’s expertise, giving you both an opportunity to help the other grow.
Finally, express your appreciation for your coworkers’ contributions. Gratitude has a way of breaking down barriers between colleagues, creating a sense of respect that can serve you well moving forward.
If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with generational gaps, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us today.