The world is in transition. Gen-X is slowly handing over the managerial positions to Millennials and now that we are in the 23rd year of Gen-Z, the transition has included them as well.
Said differently, there are 3 generations of employees working together to find harmony in their workplaces.
While businesses are focusing upon “bringing diversity” in their culture and “diverged thought process” in their decisions, employees are still somewhat struggling to understand other generations.
Especially when it comes to collaborating or co-working, such as for training purposes and project management, this generational gap can lead to a communication gap and even conflicts.
For understanding this, let us look at the major problems in a multi-generational workplace:
The older and younger generations have a rather incongruent preference for communication. While the analog people are more comfortable with emails and telephone calls, the digital generation is biased towards texts, tweets, and other micro-communication channels.
Company culture has stereotypically become all about beanbags and pool tables. However, what people fail to grasp is that while these things can be added perks, they might not necessarily mean “company culture” for all the employees. Especially if they belong to different generations. Moreover, one person’s fun can be another person’s nuisance.
This difference in expectations can lead to disturbances in the actual company culture.
While the younger generation people are considered entitled, dependent and even lazy, older generation people can be prejudiced for being set in their ways and hard to train.
With such problems posing a hindrance, it can be difficult to build a harmonious work environment and bring people together to work. These issues can surface especially at times when co-working is required, such as for big projects or training.
However, when every difficulty can be resolved with simple practices, this too has a solution.
Here’s how you can bridge the generation gap between employees and bring them together for important co-working activities.
Keep it relevant
It is quite possible that relevant knowledge for Millennials and Gen-Z might be different, depending upon their experience and job responsibilities. But if they are training or working together on a project, it is crucial to remember that any information being taught should be beneficial for both the groups.
Especially, during Employee Onboarding, if one group (or person) is more experienced in any area, then the other should not be considered any less. For any training program to be successful, it is important that all the participants feel positive about it.
Keep it unbiased
For a fair evaluation of training results and progress, employees should be evaluated based on their performance. Irrespective of age, if a trainee requires extra aid for understanding concepts well, there should a provision for availing that. Moreover, judging the trainees based on their practical applications of knowledge keeps the performance review process objective in nature.
Never be presumptuous
Millennials can be tech-savvy and Gen-X can be good with spreadsheets. At the beginning of any kind of training, especially during onboarding or for promotion considerations, like, leadership development training, it is important for the intermediary to be free of any stereotypical biases and keep and an open mind.
Bring variety in training methods
If you find that a group of trainees is not comfortable with your chosen way of training, for instance, gamification, then you must keep a provision for other forms of training as well. In fact, using auditory, visual and kinesthetic, all possible ways of learning might show you better participation from all the trainees.
For Project Management
Mind the gap
If there happens to arise a conflict between employees, instead of making a biased decision based on factors like seniority, experience, or generation, try to take an objective approach. Try to find the root cause of conflict while maintaining a healthy balance among your teammates.
As cliché as it sounds, project managers might have a tendency to weigh one person’s opinions over another’s, especially if one employee belongs to your own generation. Even though you might have better communication with one person, it is paramount for you to develop an understanding of every employee’s opinions and appreciate them.
Maintain the level
In simple terms, bridging the generation gap in your team does not imply that you have to be at the same level. Instead of trying to help them gel with each other, you should focus on establishing concrete terms that help everyone complete their share of work without conflicts. For this, they do not have to be friends, rather they only need a clear process to follow.
Avoid the gossip
Whenever there happens to be a conflict between two team members, try to resolve it within the team itself.
As more people get involved, the chances of workplace gossip increase which can worsen the team dynamics. So if you are thinking about ‘discussing the conflicts of your team with other team’s members, reconsider and if possible, drop the idea altogether.
Redesign and reassign
If you are not able to bring out optimum productivity of your current team, try reshuffling the roles or processes for them to try. The best way to go about this is by communicating with your teammates. Listen to their issues, and make suggestions for corrections. By doing this, you will propagate healthy dynamins in the teams. Just remember that while taking feedbacks, involve everyone in the team. It works best when people get to express themselves in front of every person involved in the situation. However, if something is too sensitive to be discussed in the open then refrain from it.
In conclusion, analyzing your trainees should be done regularly throughout the training program to be aware of any necessary modifications. Providing an equal environment and taking care of your employees with good leadership will itself result in them getting along in a much better way.
After all, irrespective of generation, it pays well to be nice to your people.
About the Author:
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.