How to Overcome The Generation Gap at The Workplace

The evolution of society has given birth to a tension between different generations and those who would try to say that this is just a false impression would be wrong. Even individuals who belong to the same generation are not always alike, and diversity is more pronounced as we talk about people who were born and were educated in different times, who lived and had to face realities imposed by the historical, political and economic context of the times when they lived them. The difference between generations is manifested in various situations involving socialization and requires building collaborative relationships between individuals, including at the workplace.

Leaders and managers are the ones who must use this diversity for the benefit of the organization and encourage close collaboration between specialists and talented people who, in some ways, share different views. Diversity is extremely beneficial for the smooth running of a business and can be used for the benefit of the organization and its leaders should never impose themselves barriers when it comes to choosing employees. However, if not managed properly, diversity can lead to professional conflicts between employees with different mentalities and may affect productivity across teams and destroy a relaxed atmosphere, by generating tension.

Thus, within the same company, we can have employees who adhere to tradition, conformists, devoted people, disciplined ones, harsh, competitive, committed, shy or independent individuals, and also people reluctant to change. Meanwhile, at the same workplace, we can find those who have new technology enthusiasts, flexible or sociable employees, those who prefer team work to the detriment of individual work, curious people and those who want challenges and changes, expansive and extroverted characters. All these are qualities that can be beneficial to the whole team, but when there is a clash between behavior with different characteristics and when each one wants to impose a point of view, the collaboration between colleagues may suffer.

Adapting The Approach Depending on Employees

Leaders must show patience in addressing these differences and adjusting their speeches and attitude depending on each generation separately. When talking about older generations, the approach should be a recognition-oriented one, showing respect for contributions brought to the organization over the time. Equally, they should receive more time to process changes that occur within the company, to adapt to new technologies and to explain to them the advantages they may have. Also, do not forget that the feeling of belonging to a team and respect are crucial for any employee, regardless of generation.

At the opposite side, younger generations like challenges and are attracted to all that is innovative and enables them to grow and develop and continuously learn new things. It is also necessary for questions to be answered when employees ask things and have the curiosity to require clarifications or directions. Any issue coming from employees is an opportunity to teach them or even give them feedback focused on their work by giving examples. Sometimes, employees who are starting out and need directions, are being put in the position to understand their strengths and who they need to progress in their career to be successful.

Communication is one of the strongest binders in the relationship between people, and encouraging discussions can eliminate the misunderstandings that occur between groups or between individuals. Although it ‘s hard to convince people with different backgrounds to sit at the same table to see if they can reach a common point, it’s worth trying this technique. If this does not work, the organization can invest in communication training, during which specialists could come up with practical exercises to stimulate collaboration between people with different visions, to emphasize that people who do not resemble can work for a common goal.