Managing Team Conflict Across Generations

Managing Team Conflict Across Generations

Conflict is normal in a team, but it could happen more often between two people of opposing generations.  Understanding how to manage conflict across the generations will help to reduce the confrontation and perhaps avoid them in the future.

Related: 5 Styles of Resolving Conflicts While Building a Team

Younger Bosses Managing Older Workers

Managing older team members could be a source of conflict.  Older team members may feel they should be in charge or that you lack experience.  The key to avoiding conflict with an older team member  is to demonstrate respect and showing them that they are valued.

Use the ACE technique in avoiding conflict with your older team members.  ACE stands for the following process:

Acknowledge your older employee’s experience and the value they bring to the team.  Older employees may feel as if they are no longer valuable because of their age.  Show them you value them by reflecting on their achievements and contributions to the team.

Caring for your older team members comes in many ways.  Become interested with their personal life or hobbies.  Take note of special things that took place in their lives.  Show interest in their family and listen to them when they talk and mirror back what they have said to show you were listening.

Exchange ideas and ask for input from your older team members on issues and demonstrate that you value their opinions and solutions.  Implement good ideas and give them recognition.  When you implement their ideas, your older team members will be more willing to take on your ideas.  Create a give-and-take environment between you and your older team members.

Breaking Down the Stereotypes

Stereotypes are formed when there is a lack of information from the other side.  Stereotypes are difficult to break because the thought process is difficult to detect.  The best way to address stereotypes is to get your team involved in activities that helps build the team and places them in a situation that challenges all the participants.

For example, you can have your team take on a project that your team never done before.  Perhaps you can engage your team with a friendly competition with another group where the focus is on the team.

Many activities can challenge your team.  When your team is challenged, their best traits will come through.  You may encounter resistance at first, but your job is to coach them through it.

Once you are done with your activity, hold a debrief meeting to spotlight the team and their achievement.  Share commonalities that span the entire team.  Finally, relate those commonalities to work related activities like project work, etc.

Embrace the Hot Zone

When dealing with generation gap issues, there is a hot zone that you must recognize and address.  The hot zone is an area you know there is conflict.  It could be between two employees or groups within your team.

Take a moment and jot some of these ideas down:

First, you must acknowledge the hot zone exists.  Ignoring it could result to more widespread hot zones.

Next, you should engage the hot zone as soon as possible and provide feedback to all the parties involved.

Set expectations with your team on how to handle future conflicts.

Hold one-on-one coaching with each team involved in the hot zone and have him or her come up with ideas on how to make things better avoiding hot zone issues.

Treat Each Other as a Peer

Treating each other as peers requires some key behaviors that demonstrate this characteristic.  It is not enough to tell your team to treat each other as peers.  They need a guideline and coaching in order to achieve this.

The CARE model is a good way to start this process and they should be coached at the individual level.  CARE stands for the following behaviors:

Collaborate.  Your team should be exposed to an environment where ideas are exchanged and at times challenged.  Set the ground rules in your meetings on how to handle disagreements.  Encourage other points of view.  Make sure all participants are involved.  Be fair in your assessments and use objective means to determine the best ideas.

Acknowledge.  Teach your team to acknowledge each other’s value.  In addition, teach them how to deliver the feedback.  Do not assume they know how to do this.  Remember that feedback is behavior-based.

Respect.  Teach your team how to show respect to each other by using proper greetings and posture towards each other.  Set the expectation that derogatory remarks about age are not tolerated by anyone.

Equal.  Teach your team that all members of the team are equal in value and contribution they bring.  Age is not a factor.



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