If you choose to continue working after the official age of retirement, you stand a good chance of working in a team with Millennials and Generation X’s. There is also a high probability that your team will be led by someone from a younger generation.
So what is the significance of this situation? Well, each generation comes with its own traits and characteristics, and in many instances, we have different values and focus on completely different aspects of the job to be completed.
The benefits of building on our different strengths can be amazing. Yet too often people fall prey to miscommunication due to a basic lack of understanding of the ways others think and what they want to achieve.
Unless you have a basic understanding of the generational differences, you may struggle to get your head around their differing values and work styles.
You may find yourself as the oldest member on the team, with the least amount of delegated responsibility – especially if you are extending your work on a contract basis. So how can you help make it work?
However tempting it is to tell the ‘youngsters’ how to do it, you need to realise they see things differently. You can’t be certain their way is wrong, but it is likely to be different, so you may have to learn to simply zip it!
Maintain an attitude which is open to learning from the younger generations. Age does not mean we know best, especially as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Keep in mind that if you stereotype the younger generations, you stand a chance of being side-lined because of your age, evoking ageist reactions.
Though it is important to understand the general characteristics of each generation, do not box individuals in. No two people are exactly alike, so see each person for what they bring to the team.
Showing a willingness to learn from each other will bring down any walls between the generations. The corporate advantage of keeping boomers on the team is to facilitate the handing on of knowledge and information.
As a boomer, you will be better off if you see it as a learning opportunity in terms of technology and recent innovations. Successful multi-generational teams are able to identify, value, and build on each others’ strengths.
In our youth, it was drummed into us that we should respect our elders. In a multi-generational team, it is important that everybody has respect for all the members of the team. Your leader may well be younger than you, but that should not diminish the respect they deserve.
We were always told how to communicate; that correct grammar and spelling are essential. But, with technology come spell-checks, abbreviations, and phonetic spelling, to mention a few.
To operate in a multi-generational team you need to be flexible in your expectations and weigh up whether it is essential to do it your way, before you comment.
For the younger generations, communication is good enough as long as it relays the essentials speedily.
There are many similarities between the generations, and you will need to focus on these to gain group cohesion, rather than constantly noticing the differences. After all, as employees, we are all there to get the job done and be remunerated.
We all want to feel respected, that we can make a contribution and achieve the end result. If you realise this you will go a long way to forming a cohesive multi-generational team.
This is your opportunity to break down some of the ageist stereotypes around boomers. We look to those of you working in multi-generational teams to lead the way.
If you want to learn more about the general characteristics of each generation, there are plenty of sources you can check out online. It is worth reading around the topic if you are working with different generations.
How often do you need to work with people from a younger generation? How do you handle the differences? Do you have any special tips about breaking down the generational boundaries? Please share them in the comments below.
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