It's Not Me, It's You: Tips for Dealing with Generational Gaps in the Workplace

Posted by Scott Clark on Feb 1, 2017 2:12:20 PM

secretary-1379839_640-1.jpgWhether you are in the first or last decade of work, or (most likely), somewhere in those vast 30 years inbetween, it’s commonplace to find generational gaps in the workplace.

 

With a social mixture of generations in the work setting, it doesn't take long to see the differences between them. These differences can potentially impact your opinions and expectations from those people.

 

Conventional wisdom tells us, that near-retirement-age workers retain the greatest amount of knowledge. Those in the millennial generation could learn a thing or two from the Gen Z. The opposite is also true to a similar extent.

 

However, in general, there is a collective disinterestedness, disrespect, and naive underestimation of those belonging to different generations.

 

In daily interactions, these feelings may be exacerbated by significant differences in speech, professional decorum, participation in meetings, team projects, and other business matters.

 

Rather than appearing valuable, enlightening, and interesting, perceived differences can come across as downright irritating.

    

  1. Focus on the positive value each brings to the table.

 

Believe that each generation brings its own value. You will begin to understand people who come from different generations when you are able to recognize that value. Younger colleagues may be able to offer fresh insight to traditional ways that need improvement. Older colleagues may be able to offer more experience to draw upon as well as more of a long-term perspectives.

 

  1. Be perceptive – learn the different ways that each communicates.

 

I’m not even going to talk about technology here. Depending on the person, sometimes all they need is the bottom line: tell it to me in a tweet. When making a proposal to an introvert, give them some time to think it over, maybe even a whole day or week, before expecting them to give you an answer back. If you don’t, you may get a hard no, before you can finish your pitch.

 

  1. Work as a team to integrate stronger members where others are weak.

Instead of making negative assumptions about one another, these teams benefit from a push-pull approach, in which the seasoned brain of experienced talent is balanced by the entrepreneurial spunk of the younglings.

 

  1. Be open-minded – age is just a number.

 

Never assume, ask! Talk to multi-generational colleagues and see how similar you are to one another. Don’t let someone’s age get in the way of seeing someone’s true potential.

 

  1. Don’t stereotype: actions speak louder than words.

 

Examine the work that people do. What have they accomplished, and how did they pull it off? Did that person say what they did, because they are from a certain generation or are there multiple variables to consider?

 

Navigating a generationally diverse environment isn’t as easy as it should be. It requires flexibility, patience, tolerance, and a spirit of congeniality. Mutual respect must serve as the binding agent between generations.

 

We are familiar with the misunderstandings and frustrations that occur as a result of the generational gaps between coworkers. Our team has over 30 years of combined recruiting and employee relations’ experience. We can help you bridge those gaps.

 

For more personal advice, contact us and see what we can do for you.

Email me, Scott Clark, at sclark@infrastructureresources.com

Topics: IR, Inc. Infrastructure Resources