Baby Boomers and Millennials seem to be pitted against each other – too many times, the generational gap is presented to be insurmountable. Like cats and dogs, our impression of these two generations is that they often don’t get along and they most likely never will. Despite all this, it’s in every employer’s best interest to make sure that all the generations are able to get along and work together in a successful team.
What is it that causes this disconnect?
There is no denying that the generations are different. There are differences in values, in lifestyle, experience and understanding of technology. It’s hard for the generations to understand each other because they simply have different things on their minds. Millennials find it difficult to believe that Baby Boomers don’t understand how to use technology that seems second nature to them, while Baby Boomers can get frustrated by Millennials’ lack of experience and attention spans.
So, what is the secret key to getting the different generations on the same team?
Actively put them on the same team.
That might sound a little too easy but it really is as simple as that. In the process of employee onboarding, some managers like to put the more experienced generations on process-based tasks while leaving the tasks dependent on modern technology to the younger generations – of course, this approach can seem to make sense but when managers separate the generations, they do them a great disservice.
Placing different generations on the same task or project gives them a chance to get to know each other on a personal level. Once that mutual respect and friendship has been built, they can then be in the best possible position to start learning from each other, challenging one another and mentoring each other. Employee engagement will be at its best when everyone is operating at their best, in spite of their generational differences.
Put simply, creating opportunities for different generations to work together is a great chance for all generations to get involved in each other’s career development as they teach each other invaluable skills they can use to progress. Millennials are able to show Baby Boomers the ways of the digital workforce, while Baby Boomers are able to teach the recent graduates how to appropriately speak to clients and create effective presentations – each generation has something to offer the others.
At the end of the day, employers can’t force their employees to get along, but it’s time to stop hindering the process of generational integration by focusing on the differences between generations. All managers need to start framing generational interactions differently – instead of being put-off by the differences between the generations, it’s time to use those differences as an opportunity for everyone to learn and really celebrate those things that the generations have in common – after all, everyone in your workplace has an interest in your industry. Start from that point they have in common and move forward from there.
Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.