Gen X, Gen Y, and now iGen will soon all be working together in the workplace. With such differences in personality, life experiences and expectations, can they work together in harmony? Yes!
Gen X consists of those born after the Western Post–World War II baby boom. Demographers and commentators use birth dates ranging from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s.
Gen Y covers people born between the 1980’s and the year 2000, and these individuals are sometimes referred to as the Millennial Generation, or simply Millennials.
Gen Z is the generation of individuals born after the year 2000. They are the children of Generation X in most cases and maybe even Generation Y.
It is understandable to see why there is so much focus on separating them - the likelihood of such different groups of people getting along seems slim to none. When you have multi-generational teams, the differences of opinions and methods can lead to difficulty working together making teamwork a challenge.
Although all the generations have clear characteristics that are unique to them, it is very possible for them to all work side by side in a productive environment. Many professionals have spent so much time separating the generations, trying to understand what makes them tick, what their needs are, and what environments they thrive best in.
The focus should be shifted to how best they can all work together since more than half of the workforce will be comprised of different generations! Whether they were affected by the Great Recession (Millennials), are still in school or entering the workforce (Gen Z), or define themselves to be the “neglected middle child,” (Gen X) they all really want the same things: fair compensation, good benefits, more autonomy, but most of all, to feel valued and to be adding value.
Here are some tips on how they can all work together:
1. Show Respect
Understand that some cultures and different generations view respect differently than you might. So, to be on the safe side, always go above and beyond to make sure people know you respect them and they should respect one another in turn.
Treat employees fairly and equally. Instill a culture where everybody is expected to treat one another with courtesy, politeness, and kindness. Never insult or belittle other peoples' ideas. If problems arise, it is your responsibility as a leader to mediate conflicts quickly and amicably. CEO Max Dirnfeld CEO of and Cash4Toners says:
Empower employees by involving them in decisions whenever possible, especially when it comes to workers who don’t get along with one another. Often, employees who don’t work well together can find a solution to their problems as long as you keep the conversation civil and focused. Stop co-worker conflicts before they become personal and emotional. Not everybody has to get along, but they need to respect each other and find ways to work together and get the job done.
Respect is a universal policy regardless of generation or age. The best teams are ones that can show this respect to one another even when there is a difference of opinions involved.
2. Encourage Creativity
One of the best ways to get along well with others is to make them feel included. Asking for their ideas and opinions will generate mutual camaraderie and elicit teamwork. Brainstorm together and stay constructive.
Change is constant in today's world at the forefront of every industry. Companies need to change and constantly improve or else they will be left behind. It's especially important to have team members that are willing to find creative ways to adapt the company to the needs of customers and the market.
With a multi-generational team, you are able to pull from all different generational backgrounds to come up with innovative solutions to problems. Use peoples' ideas to change or improve work, then let employees know that you used their idea or encourage them to implement it. Offer praise frequently while encouraging praise and recognition among employees, as well as from supervisors.
3. Listen to Understand
Many people listen only to respond, rarely to understand. Relationships drastically improve when people want to truly know what the other person is trying to say/convey. As part of good communication in your teams, encourage members to listen to each other and actively try to understand what they are trying to convey. You may even learn something new! Kenny Trinh, CEO of Netbooknews says:
Personally, I see an effective team as a group of professionals who work together on the same goal. These people can clearly express their opinions and at the same time, they listen to others and help each other. So I'm sure that the key to successful teamwork is efficient communication, and a great team leader should know how to achieve this.
Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over or interrupt another person. Listen and stop formulating rebuttals and responses in your mind when you need to focus on listening to the other person.
The key to satisfying this blend of generations is to start at the top, with the culture and values of your organization. When everyone knows and cares about the company they are working for, the collaboration will fall into place. Hiring the people that fit into your organization, no matter what generation they come from, not only will prove seamless collaboration but invite diversity on a whole other level.
The important thing to remember is that the key to working with everyone is not putting them in a category and value the individual flair they bring to the work environment. we're always learning from our peers, and having many different perspectives from people of different generations and experiences can only be a good thing and add to that.
For more teamwork tips, talk with one of our specialists on how ProSky can help your team work better together!