Tag: Generation Gaps

Making the Best of All the Generations in Your Team

Making the Best of All the Generations in Your Team

Leveraging the best of all the generations in your team could result in benefits that help your workplace become a better place to work.  Each generation brings unique traits that can complement the other generations.  In this blog, you are going to learn the following on leveraging the power of the generations present in your team:

  • Benefits of generation gaps
  • How to learn from each other
  • Embracing the unfamiliar

Let see how to make the best of a diverse environment.

Benefits of Generation Gaps

Having various generations in your team gives you access to varying perspectives and ideas.  You should avoid discounting the value of a particular generation.  Here are some benefits to having multiple generations in your team:

  • You gain a good perspective of the external culture
  • You can generate more ideas based on varying experiences
  • The older generation can help the younger generation refine their social skills
  • The younger generation can help the older learn how to leverage technology
  • Create a mentoring environment

Keep in mind that whenever you have access to different views, ideas and way of doing things, you have a source of knowledge that is profound and leveraged for the organization’s benefit.

How to Learn from Each Other

Learning from each other in the team is possible if you create the environment.  In order to achieve this, you must create the opportunities for learning to take place, make it a safe environment, and tie it to a team-building goal.

The FIT model for meetings is a helpful way to create a learning environment in your team meetings.  FIT stands for the following:

Frequent—make sure your team meets frequently in a team-meeting environment.  It can be once a month, once a week, etc.  Having your team together in a group will help them engage each other, communicate, and dialogue.  This is essential to any learning environment.

Informal—make your meeting less formal.  This way everyone puts down his or her guard.  Use an icebreaker activity or energizer.  Making your meeting informal will allow your employees to share and learn.  When it is formal, you will get very little interaction.

Team building—make your meetings about team building.  Topics like updates, reports, etc., are best delivered by other means like email in a presentation.  When your team gets together, celebrate achievements and discuss what went well and how they can do things better the next time.  Also, bring in some new information to learn.  Make it a mini training session.  Create projects for them to accomplish in the meeting.

Embracing the Unfamiliar

Embracing the unfamiliar is something you need to do and help your team learn.  It is easy to dismiss the unfamiliar, but that sends the wrong message to your team.  Model the behavior by using the LEAD model.

LEAD stands for the following behaviors:

Look for unfamiliar things in the workplace.  Be on the lookout for new ideas, attitudes, trends, etc. in the workplace you can investigate and learn more on the topic.

Engage it immediately.  When you identify an unfamiliar concept or idea, embrace it immediately.  Ask questions about it and take notes.

Acquire more knowledge on the topic.  Research the topic and learn more about it.  Look for reasons why this is valuable and why one should adopt it.

Disseminate the knowledge to the rest of the team.  Once you gather the information, share it with your team in your meetings.  Gain input on perspectives and tell them how this information helps you.

If you want to have your team to  embrace the unfamiliar, you must lead the way with your own actions and behaviors.  Model the behavior you want them to adopt.  They will follow you if you do.



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Background Differences Between the Generations in Your Team

Background Differences Between the Generations in Your Team

The background differences between the generations in your team are the main factor in the formation of their attitudes and values.

Effects of technology: The use and understanding of technology are a main difference among the generations.  The Traditionalist had very little exposure and need for computers and other devices that we take for granted today.  Even some Baby Boomers may struggle with technology.  They tend to use it only as needed, and usually only at work.  On the other hand, Generation X and Y grew up with technology and they use it more as a part of daily life.  Technology changed the way humans communicate and process data.  The use or nonuse of technology creates a gap that could be seen by a generation as either an advantage or disadvantage.

For example, a Generation X or Y could become easily frustrated with their older generation counterpart when they struggle with technological issues they see as easy.

Effects of media: Media has boomed over the last 20 years.  Television, computers, the Internet, and smart phones have increased the amount and availability of entertainment programming.  Many Generation X and Y’s were raised with media as a large part of their diet.  On the other hand, the older generations relied on human interaction for their daily entertainment.  This affects how the generations interact with each other.

For example, an older generation may prefer to speak with a coworker face-to-face, but the younger would rather text or instant message their conversation.

Finally, social events like war and culture revolutions distinguish a generation’s background.  Traditionalist lived through many years of war and it became a real part of their lives.  Baby Boomers experienced the Hippie revolution of the 1960s, which opened the door to changes in our society.  Generation X and Y’s enjoy the benefits of the changes, but they have not lived through such dramatic social events.



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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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Bridging Generation Gaps in Your Team by Finding Common Ground

Bridging Generation Gaps in Your Team by Finding Common Ground

In order to be successful bridging the gap across the generations in your team, you must find common ground that enables you to close the gap and effectively reach your opposing generation.  In this blog post, you will learn the following:

  1. Adopting a communication style
  2. Creating an affinity group
  3. Sharing knowledge

Let us see how adopting a communication style helps you find common ground.

Adopting a Communication Style

Being sensitive to the way you communicate will help you bridge the generation gap in your team.  Understanding that the older generation prefers face-to-face communication and the younger prefer electronic methods should give you a base to form a flexible communication style that reaches all generations in the team.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Here is an easy way to adapt your communication style.  Use the TAP method for communicating.  You will have to think a little before you communicate to someone, but the investment is well worth it.  TAP stands for the following components:

To-the-Point: Make your communication brief and succinct.  The older generation will appreciate the clarity and the younger generation will appreciate the brevity.

Adapt: Change the method of communication for your audience.  If you are going to engage an older team member, make the effort to either call them or better yet, see them in person.  They will feel respected and valued.  For the younger generation, use email or instant messaging, etc. to reach them.  They will feel independent and not micro managed.

If you need to address the entire team, younger and older, in an email, make yourself available for follow-up by telling the team to reply, call or see you in person if they have questions.

Professional: When in doubt, communicate professionally.  Avoid jargon and text abbreviations in your communication.  Use salutations and close your communication properly.  You will show the older generation that you respect them and set the example for the younger generation on how to communicate professionally.

Creating an Affinity Group

Affinity groups are groups of people sharing common interests.  You can create such groups at work that give different generations a chance to work with each other with an activity, which is not directly work related.

These groups provide a way for the generations to learn more about each other’s interests and values.  You can create several affinity groups, promoting cohesion among the various generations.  Affinity groups are usually non-hierarchical.  They are typically small and do not require centralization.

Affinity groups could tend to become closed.  That is why allowing groups that focus on non-polarized topics are the best way to introduce affinity groups in your workplace.

Here are some groups to consider:

Work newsletter group

Professional book club

Recycling task force

Community service group

Improving work morale group

Work safety group

Speech club group

Sharing Knowledge

The lack of knowledge could breed fear between generations or lead to misinterpretations.  Sharing knowledge helps to break down barriers and create an understanding and collaborative environment.  There are many ways knowledge can be shared.

Here are some ways to share knowledge in a team:

You can set up a blog where a topic is introduced and then the team can submit comments.  Blogs provide a safe and open structure to hold discussions.  If you use a blog, be sure to set up clear rules of what and how to share.  You want to avoid sensitive topics for discussions.  This can undermine the sharing process.

Form focus groups to resolve an issue or generate new ideas.  Focus groups containing various generations is a great way to get different perspectives from your diverse team.  Read up on how to facilitate team meetings so you can better manage the dynamics in such a meeting.

Create a newsletter where team members get to share their thoughts in an interview.  This can be a creative way of sharing knowledge.

Place an ideas box where team members can submit ideas for review.  This can be a real box or an electronic version via email or other form of communication.



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