How to Bridge Differences in Generations at Work

Generations at work webinar cover

With all the talk recently surrounding issues of a multi-generational workforce, finding information that simplifies the solutions and makes it applicable to everyday working life can be tricky.

There is tons of research describing how each of the five generations have different experiences that influence them, and all of these facts can be helpful, but what then do you do with that information?

How do you use historical experiences to create harmony among the different generations at work?

Keynote speaker and trainer Jeff Havens suggests simplifying how you think about the gaps between generations, and rather than dealing with four to five different mindsets, look at how to create unity between two – old and young.

Maybe that sounds too simple. Shouldn’t we get to know each individual generation to unearth the historical, environmental, and psychological factors that have created them? Perhaps. But it’s also important to keep in mind that not everyone fits squarely into their own generation. Many other factors play into how someone interacts with the world around them.

Learn more: Download our free guide on how to successfully engage a multi-generational workforce.

A generation is in a constant state of flux, and attempting to cater to each one can potentially create more barriers than bridges. For example, statistics show that although Millennials are often seen as less loyal to employers than every other generation, they are actually more loyal than previous generations were at that age. The disconnect is simply that those previous generations are at a different stage in their lives now.

If you’re looking at each generation and trying to figure out how to implement policies and structure that will suit all of them, it’s absolutely going to drive you up a wall. How can you possibly keep up when there is constant change among all of them?

Havens looks at the issue of multiple generations at work and sees a much simpler solution than detailing out how to work with five generations.

Teach the youngster and the elder how to meet halfway.

In his BizLibrary webinar, Working with Generations: Us vs. Them,” Havens presents a viewpoint that focuses on remembering a few key points when working with someone from a different generation. These points are not so much correlated with a particular generation, like Gen X or Millennials – they’re adaptable to simply recognizing if someone else is coming from an older or younger ideology than your own, and bridging that through compromise.

Teaching someone how to negotiate compromise will provide them with a much more broadly applicable and useful skill than teaching them that a Baby Boomer coworker prefers a phone call over an instant messaging discussion.

Compromise entails subduing frustrations by actively listening and creatively solving problems, rather than memorizing the blanket preferences of someone based on their age (which, as mentioned earlier, may not even apply to them).

Here’s an example of compromise in each direction:

  • An older person can meet a younger person halfway by remembering that loyalty should be earned and not assumed.
  • A younger person can meet an older person halfway by understanding that professional advancement does not happen overnight – it can be a lengthy process, and for good reasons.

Try simplifying the issue of multiple generations at work by emphasizing the skill of compromise with employees of all ages. To learn more from Jeff Havens on creating bridges between the generations in the workplace, check out the preview below of a video lesson from the The Jeff Havens Company, available in The BizLibrary Collection.

Enjoy a 1-minute preview of “Leveraging the Power of Generations Episode 3: Advancement is a Process” below:

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