Collaboration Strategies are possible even when there is so much conflict between generations in your workplace. At times respect for each other doesn’t exist. Yet there are numerous organizations that have figured out how to celebrate such diversity.
Have you heard these comments at work?
- Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation think the younger workers are lazy and disrespectful.
- The younger generations (Generation X and the Millennials) think the older workers are stuck in their ways and too closed-minded.
Despite these differences, people from the varying generations must work together productively for the company to succeed. If they let their generational outlooks get in the way, the conflict will never be resolved. The ideas in this article come from clients who have figured out this communication challenge.
Use the following 4 Collaboration Strategies to overcome generational differences so everyone can get along:
Collaboration Strategies #1: Know each other’s preferences
In a nutshell, the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face communication. They like consensus, and they expect everyone to respect authority. They don’t like conflict and will avoid it at all costs.
Generation X and the Millennials thrive on online meetings. They twitter each other and use e-mail the majority of the time. They’re not afraid to confront others; they want their voices heard. They dislike being on teams and prefer to work alone.
While we can’t automatically assume every single person in a particular generation behaves and thinks a certain way, knowing the generalities is a great first step. Therefore, take the initiative to learn about the other generations on your team. The more you understand their point of view and what events shaped their lives, the more you’ll be able to work with them without conflict.
Collaboration Strategies #2: Spend time with each other
Simply knowing each other’s preferences is one thing; it’s another to actually spend time learning from the person. Remember that learning and mentoring is a two-way street. Just as younger people can learn things from older people, the older generation can definitely learn from the “kids.”
As you do this, realize that you’ll likely have to make compromises. For example, a younger person can teach an older person about some new computer communication tool. The younger person will need to employ patience during the training, and the older person will need to keep an open mind to the new technology. You’ll also have to confront your own personal biases and work through them. Everyone benefits when barriers are removed.
Collaboration Strategies #3: Be open to talking things out
The older people don’t understand what all the pierced noses and tattoos are about. The younger people can’t comprehend how someone can be so loyal to a company. Instead of just wondering in silence, it’s time to talk it out with the very people you don’t understand. As long as the conversation stays respectful and doesn’t turn into an accusatory yelling match, it will be a healthy way to gain a broader understanding of each other. The sooner you start the conversation, the quicker you’ll resolve differences.
Collaboration Strategies #4: Bridge the Gap
Generational differences can be tough. However, when you are open and honest and take the time to really listen to each other, you can overcome any perceived differences real or otherwise. A little generational understanding can go a long way to boosting the company’s bottom line.
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This is Joyce Weiss, Communications Strategist and Coach
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Until next time, Remember…“You Get What You Tolerate!”