There have always been people from multiple generations working alongside each other in organizations. From the youthful newcomers to seasoned executives, everyone seems to find their place along the corporate ladder. However, the present workforce is made up of at least four very different generations of workers who are separated not only by age, but also by technology.
How is it possible for an employee from Generation Z (or more commonly known as the millennial generation) who spends his days text messaging and taking selfies to get along with and communicate with a Baby Boomer who values face-to-face meetings and good old-fashioned work methods?
Regardless of where you find yourself on the generational time-table, it is possible to get along with your diverse work team. The key is to understand the uniqueness of each generation’s work style and values. Here are some guidelines that will help multi-generation teams to work together.
Understand that each generation has communication preferences.
As illustrated above, each generation of workers has their way of communicating with others. Millennials and younger employees tend to focus on getting quick access to information in small snippets, and they often lean on texting and social networks to communicate. Generation X and baby boomers prefer emails and phone calls, or even in-person meetings. If you are working with other generations, try using the communication methods they like to get a better response.
Technology adaptation is different for each generation.
It can take time for all generations to adapt to certain types of technology, some longer than others. If you find that you pick things up quickly and a co-worker is struggling, take the time to work with them to bring them up to speed. Everyone in your organization will benefit if each employee can handle the basics of the latest technologies in your business. Taking it to the next level, your management team will notice if you are helping others on your own accord.
Each generation has something to learn from the others.
Respect can go a long way towards fostering a positive relationship with your multi-generational colleagues. Remember that each generation has valuable information and experience to share with others. Be open to learning from your colleagues and sharing what you know when asked. While we talked about how some co-workers are more likely to be better teachers with new technologies, other employees can be well-versed in business principles, career development or other areas.
There are strengths and weaknesses in all generations.
Every generation has something they bring to the table, whether it is leadership skills, life experience or technical knowledge. To get along with your co-workers means tapping into these strengths. It also means understanding that there may be weak areas that demand patience. Setting up conversations and meetings with your co-workers (go to an informal lunch with them), and learning about their strengths and weaknesses will make everyone better.
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