For the first time in history, the workforce consists of four (and sometimes) five generations within a single company. Research reveals generation gaps in areas such as communication style, goals, adaptation to change and technical skills—and bosses face the challenge of how to bridge these differences. It starts with dropping the generational stereotypes and learning to engage everyone around shared values. Here are four tips on how business leaders can get employees in a multi-generational company to work well together:
- Building bridges. Despite wide age disparities, common ground needs to be found. That requires investing the time to learn about others and their motivations—even as the research and conversations about generations tend to focus on the differences.
- Daily check-ins. Younger people new to their careers need interaction. Don’t assume people you’re mentoring haven’t asked a question because they already know the answer. Be proactive and make daily check-ins a habit. It gives them a chance to air thoughts and ask questions.
- Share a big enough “why.” Employees of all ages and backgrounds are key gears that turn the big wheel. At the center of that wheel is the why—essentially, the core values of company culture. Some people are put off by a younger employee’s need to know why they’re asked to do the things they do. Once that is explained, everyone can move forward with a renewed purpose.
- Set clear expectations. No matter what generation leaders are from, they should make sure their mentee or employee understands exactly what they want and how with a specific timeline. It’s important to be explicitly clear. Someone from a different generation may not have the same ideas about what is relevant and necessary toward certain business objectives. iBi