According to a survey by Lee Hecht Harrison, more than 60 percent of employers are experiencing intergenerational conflict. However, those very differences can also lead to increased creativity and productivity—and ultimately to business success.
We have heard all the comparisons. We have heard Baby Boomers for a long time. We heard about Generation X. Now Millennials are taking the stage (and will be for the next 20+ years).
According to AARP Generational Studies, below are the messages from each generations' early years:
Make do or do without. Stay in line. Sacrifice.
Be anything you want to be. Work well with others. Live up to expectation.
Don’t count on it. Get real. Take care of yourself. Always ask “why?”
You are special. Leave no one behind. Connect 24/7. Achieve now! Serve your community
In every change in generations, we always have to adapt. And Millennials are no different.
So what needs to change?
1. Communication Style
If you can't easily see the communication style and form is completely different for Baby Boomers and Millennials, you must have been under a rock the past 10 years. With Baby Boomers and older Generation Xers, phone and email are the preferred form. And a more formalized tone and writing style are expected.
Millennials are more likely to text or use some other form of mobile communication. Their style is more informal and abbreviated.
So who cares? You should. Baby Boomers and the older Generation X see formal communication as a way to show respect. When Millennials use short form, it may come across as being disrespectful (although that is not the intent).
2. Stop the Negative Stereotypes.
We can generalize about each generation to help us better coach and train. But don't believe all the negative stereotypes. As in all generations and in individuals, their way of doing things is not necessarily good or bad. It's just different.
So don't buy into or allow these negative stereotypes. It creates an unproductive work environment and prevents what really needs to happen: true collaboration.
3. Personalize your style of management and leadership. Be flexible.
Each generation has similarities that help you determine the best way to help them. So be flexible and adapt to what each group needs.
Traditionalists often work well with more directive leadership, value relationships at work, and have a sense of duty. Baby Boomers are known for their relation to the team and company. Give them the freedom to make decisions and use their skills. Generation X thrives on challenges and independent working. Generation X'ers prefer to choose their training. Millennials like working in teams but they want to also work directly with their leaders. They see learning as essential. Millennials need to make the world better and have a focus on socially conscious movements.
4. Educate Your Staff and Encourage Interaction
Educate your staff on the differences of each generation. Show the Baby Boomers that the Millennials are not being disrespectful but rather are using their own style to bring value to the team. Encourage interaction. Have Millennials ask questions of X'ers and Boomers. Sometimes we allow our own preferences and thoughts dictate how we treat people. And just by simply knowing, we can work more effectively together.
Be respectful. Ask questions about how someone prefers to be coached, led and trained. Encourage open communication between all generations and levels of management.
The differences in generation should be an ADVANTAGE not a disadvantage.