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How to Lead an Intergenerational Team at work?

Issues of communication at the workplace due to different generations are a reality nowadays. We are in fact facing miscommunications between four different types of generations – the Veterans, the Baby Boomers, GenX and GenY.

To work together, with such differences it is extremely challenging. From recruiting, to motivation, managing and dealing with change, the differences can be extreme.

Each generation may have distinct attitudes, expectations, behaviours, habits and even the way they are motivated.

It is crucial to manage these intergenerational groups, with dissimilar values and idiosyncratic styles, in a way that they will work successfully with one another. Once you are able to set a system on which they can communicate with each other, your organisation can be greatly benefited.

Who has never heard the affirmation: “They have it so much easier than we did.”

Most people have, and it so happens that most of the individuals always believe their generation suffered more than the youngest generation. But is it true?

To understand more how different generations’ act/think it is important to know where one falls in the Generation Timeline:

Here is an example on how the different groups prefer to be approached:

Veterans prefer handwritten notes and direct requests for the work to be done. The boomers don't work independently so they expect to have meetings all the time, and it is fine if they are called in the middle of the night. The GenX doesn't appreciate thinking about the projects outside work and the GenY prefers to communicate via messages, email and voice mail.

This is why the leader needs to study his team carefully in order to set up the right communication system within.

Tips for better managing a intergenerational team:

1. Do not be stereotypical

Although they are in fact different, no one appreciates to have the sense they are being treated differently. For example, the GenY may feel that Baby Boomers are technologically impaired, conservative and close-minded, while Baby Boomers might think that the GenY lack of work ethic. The best thing to do here is to avoid stereotypes.

So, if there is someone at the office that is a Baby Boomer, instead of preventing them to learn, assuming they can´t work with a technological program, take sometime to teach then how the program works. This way the person will feel more respected and independent.

2. Do not make general statements about tasks and processes

Not everyone is on the same page; different generations might understand generalisations differently. So before setting up tasks, be sure to have them communicated clearly, avoiding abbreviations, listing deadlines from time to time and ensuring the roles are defined.

3. Have everyone understand the mission and vision of the company

This way there is a general and common goal, even if individuals work in some ways differently to achieve such goals.

4. Plan according to their strengths

Although we do not want to stereotype, but still it is important to know the differences and plan accordingly. There is always something that each person is good at. Work with the strengths and the end result will be more successful. For example, in a social media campaign, pairing a GenY with a Baby Boomer might be a great idea, as the Baby boomer will give good advice on how to have a better relationship with the clients and GenYs will know exactly what to write on the social media for better exposure.

Although it seems complex and problematic, it is in fact with these differences that the corporate world can aim higher. Differences mean viewing the projects through several lenses and that can be a great benefit helping end results to be more complete and valuable.

A well managed intergenerational team can be a great "Treasure" to the organisation.

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