5 ways to bridge the workplace generational gap

19th Sep 2016
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As an entrepreneur who heads a multigenerational and diverse workforce, you may find that clashes between employees belonging to different generations are inevitable in the workplace. In popular terms, there are two generations that have the toughest time getting along – the baby boomers (49 to 67 year olds) and the millennials (13 to 33 year olds). Baby boomers accuse millennials of being undisciplined, casual and easily distracted. On the other hand, the latter believe that baby boomers are sexist, defensive, conservative and lack creativity.

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While both these age groups have significantly different life experiences, getting along is not impossible. As managers, you need to understand and acknowledge the differences between your employees and embrace them to ensure better workplace dynamics. Here are a few ways in which you, as a leader, can resolve problems between baby boomers and millennials in your workplace.

Communication style

With the dawn of easy work-based communication applications like Slack, millennials and even some of the early Gen X-ers (34 to 45 years old) have dismissed the idea of phone calls and boring emails. Moreover, with increased use of abbreviations and informal language, there is sure to be a communication imbalance. This can be fixed by making sure that the leader is communicating with every individual via their preferred mode of communication. If not, then it’s up to the entrepreneur to figure out what works best for his employees.

Stereotyping


Be it baby boomers or millennials, most people have an uncanny tendency of generalising people belonging to a different age group. This can create a serious rift leaving both groups disinterested in work. The “been there, done that” attitude can be detrimental for new ideas to bloom. Leaders can fix these situations by intervening and conducting sessions at a regular basis where you, as the head address the different issues that reek stereotyping. Hold monthly stress busting sessions if you have to.

Over-expectations

Baby boomers have a tendency of expecting the unexpected from their juniors. They want things to be done their way. Such an attitude can destroy an otherwise curious employee’s urge to learn. Of course, the seniors are not wrong in having expectations from their juniors, but these expectations must be within limits and be coupled with ample support and guidance.

Entrepreneurs can simmer the situation down by clearly defining roles for all the employees irrespective of their age.

One size does not fit all

As a leader, you cannot expect one management principle to fit all your employees. For example, having a management plan that is millennial-friendly might make their seniors feel out of place and lead to a decrease in their productivity. The reverse is also possible. Don’t approach all of them in the same manner. Instead, follow a tailor-made management plan keeping their frame of reference in mind to avoid clashes.

Start off on the same page

All your employees, both baby boomers and millennials, must be sure about their purpose in the company. Don’t avoid confrontations if problems arise. Instead, talk it out. Remember that communication is the key for the betterment of every company. As a leader, be sure to remind each of them of their goals and aspirations.

Everyone wants a peaceful work culture, and this can only be achieved with the help of a strong and collaborative team. Minimise conflict and unnecessary hassles by conducting ice-breaking sessions and encouraging one-on-one communications.

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