Office Wars: Can Gen Ys, Gen Xs and Baby Boomers Work Together In Harmony?
“Gen Ys are terrible at commitment!”
“My boss is so rigid and old school!”
“I don’t know why my senior is so afraid of doing things differently.”
Heard comments like these before? Chances are, you are not alone.
Generational gaps are frustrating. Yet, in today’s fast-paced, demanding world, diversity is important. Companies need the expertise of the older combined with the energy and drive of the younger in order to thrive. Question is, how can the different generations overcome the challenges and work together, not only without starting a war – but in a way that brings everyone’s strengths to the table?
Here are a few tips that might help you manage your Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomer workers and encourage a work environment where everyone is appreciated.
GEN YS / MILLENNIALS
- Give them opportunities to prove their worth. Gen Ys are often criticized for being arrogant. It’s true, this generation’s parents have brought them up to believe they can achieve greatness and change the world. But that confidence can be an asset – Gen Ys will take more risks, dare to step up to new challenges – and chances are, they will do these things at a much younger age than their predecessors. Give them the opportunity to prove their worth, and don’t look at their age as a barrier to what they can do.
- Teach them the art of face-to-face conversation. This generation thrives on digital conversation and instant messages. While this mode of communication may be quick and efficient for simple tasks, Gen Ys need to learn how to gain respect or deal with conflict through verbal conversation. Give them opportunities to participate in meetings, negotiations, and phone conversations that will help them sharpen their communication skills.
- Realize that intellectual intelligence does not equate to emotional intelligence. Many bosses may be surprised at how ‘naïve’ or ignorant to common courtesies their Millennial reports can be, especially given how much access to knowledge this generation has. But having knowledge isn’t enough. Just like the previous generations, Millennials need to be mentored, coached and guided. Acquiring good manners, wisdom, and street smarts is something only gained through the passing on of lessons and truths from someone more experienced.
- Encourage them to take on leadership roles. Gen Xs can be highly influential in leadership roles, because they act as a strong great bridge between the older and younger generations. They grew up in an individualistic generation, so they understand Gen Ys’ need for flexibility. They’ve also survived tough job climates (and possibly unemployment), so they understand the value of hard work and hustling. By using these experiences to their advantage, they can grow their influence, for the benefit of their personal growth as well as that of the company.
- Challenge them to learn how to collaborate. Gen Xs are used to working on their own portfolios and leaving their peers to their own thing. But by taking a cue from Gen Ys ability to collaborate and problem-solve as a team, your Gen X can gain new skills and knowledge and also prepare themselves for greater leadership roles.
- Connect older employees to younger Millennials for informal, two-way mentoring. Millennials may seem arrogant, but they actually crave the time and mentorship of the older generations. The wisdom and experience the older workers have to share is something they can’t find through a Google Search. In exchange, Millennials can help the older workers with setting up their computers, learning social media skills, or installing useful apps on their smartphone for them!
- Encourage them to share their skills and experience. Few other employees in the company will have the breadth and depth of experience as the Baby Boomers. Challenge them to conduct in-house workshops and training sessions that will upskill the younger team members and allow them to feel like they are contributing to the company’s future growth as well.