Article by Anne Houlihan
Put a group of strangers together, ask them to work side-by-side in the same building or office for eight or more hours each day, and you’re bound to have some conflict. And when that group of people contains people from differing generations, all with different values and views of the world, the amount of conflict your office experiences can greatly multiply.
Managing and motivating a diverse workforce can certainly be challenging. As more and more people from the youngest generation enter the workforce and work alongside the most senior employees, many managers are learning that a one-size-fits-all management style simply does not exist. That’s because each of the four generations now working side-by-side bring unique viewpoints to the table and let generation specific values guide their daily actions.
If you want to effectively lead your staff despite any generational differences and encourage others to learn from the diversity of the group, then consider the following guidelines.
2. Draw on the strengths of each generation.
Once you know which of your employees fall into the various generation groups, you can help them understand each other so they can focus on each other’s strengths. Current research indicates that the majority of conflicts arise from the value differences of the age groups rather than the actual age difference itself. So it’s more about “my values are the right ones and yours are not.” For example, Veterans may think the “young kids” in the workplace are lazy, while the Millennials or Generation X’ers may think the Veterans and even Baby Boomers are too rigid. However, if all the generations are open-minded, they can learn much from each other.
Realize that each generation brings wonderful strengths to the workplace. And while focusing on our own individual strengths is certainly important, imagine how much more effective everyone on your team could be if you each learned from the strengths of others as well. So publicly acknowledge what each generation’s strengths are and encourage everyone to share their viewpoints and values with the group. Once you get the dialogue started, the learning: naturally follows.
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