The modern workplace is continually changing shape, and with more employees choosing to retire later in life, there’s a greater chance of capitalizing on the perks of a multi-generational office environment.
But with this great opportunity for multiple perspectives, varying experience levels, and an endless supply of backgrounds and skill sets to draw from also comes the challenge of bridging multiple gaps between coworkers.
So if you find yourself heading a team of professionals who all come from different generations, or even if you have just one outlier who happens to be older or younger than the rest, how do you ensure that everyone feels included and up-to-date on work-related matters? With an open mind and a few tweaks to your leadership style, it’s definitely possible, and your business will be the better for a more cohesive working team.
In most industries, brainstorming sessions and collaborations are essential parts of getting a project off the ground. You can also use these to bring members of your team together to see how everyone contributes to the work, and therefore get the generations mingling and talking to one another. Things tend to get lost in translation over email or instant messenger, so try to have these activities carried out in person as often as possible with an open line of communication.
It’s easy to get stuck in your ways when a management style works. But when you’re working with people from different age groups, you’ll find that they respond in varying ways, too. If projects are taking longer than usual to complete, or maybe the quality of the work is declining, try addressing employees or colleagues in a different way. You might even reconsider your approach to the work itself. It’s like catering to differing learning styles; it’s better to give visual learners something to look at than to try and just talk it out. Take the time to get to know your employees so you can work with them in a way that they can appreciate and channel productively.
Speaking of different learning styles, you might also notice in your multi-generational office that some training methods don’t work as well with one age group versus another. Maybe your younger employees prefer digital means, while some of the older ones would rather you talked face to face – or vice versa! Whatever the case, make sure employee training is actually going to stick by individualizing the approach as much as you can, and tracking each person’s progress accordingly.
One of the best ways of blending the different age groups at work is to get them out of the office altogether. Employee outings in restaurants or even at a party in someone’s home can take the pressure off and make it easier to hold a normal conversation, one that doesn’t revolve around a deadline or project specs. When you make it more personal than professional on occasion, it’s not so difficult to find things that others have in common, and can then use to bridge the age gap on their own.
For more on making the office a more productive and friendly working environment, stay tuned to Conductor’s blog!