The Generation Game
It’s teamwork that makes the dreamwork, they optimistically say. But there’s often more to teamwork than simply ‘pulling together’. Intergenerational communication is all about recognising differences in approach, culture and experience, and is a vital part of creating a cohesive team.
Communication and collaboration between the generations is vital in every aspect of our lives. If you’re lucky enough to have got to know your grandparents or had the experience of young people in your family, you’ll know how they can enrich life. Making friends with people outside of our own age group can be equally rewarding, offering different perspectives on problems we face and the chance to broaden our horizons. And in a work context, it’s those generational differences that can bring a wealth of new ideas to the table. The key to harnessing all those opportunities in a business context is in noticing and acknowledging the differences across the generations.
Having an overview of the various ‘generational’ types within your business is the first step. Essentially, there are four different ‘generations' in the workplace today. Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation Xers (1965-1980), Millennials or Generation Ys (1981-1996) and Gen Zs, sometimes known as iGen (1997-2012).
There will almost certainly be differences in terms of the way various people work, their core beliefs, their expectations within the workplace and how they will respond to motivations and rewards, and some of those will be influenced by generational difference. Here at Amack, we have found that everyone has their own set of idiosyncrasies and gifts and brings something new to the table, whether that’s the voice of experience, some impressive tech savviness or simply a different outlook on the world. And that’s something we encourage the SMEs we work with to tune into, too.
It goes without saying that, while it’s useful to recognise generational difference, it’s important to retain an idea of people’s various personalities, too. Naturally, stereotypes are unhelpful and not everyone of each generation will behave in the same way. In fact, those many people who sit outside of generational stereotypes can be incredibly helpful at bridging the gaps and bringing different generational groups together.
So, how do we help people of different generations work together?
Firstly, it’s about providing opportunities to step out of our everyday roles within the organisations. Away days, lunch and learns and DEAL hours (drop everything and learn) all give us a chance to grow together. But you could start small and just begin by incorporating games and ice breakers into team meetings to get people talking and sharing ideas and thoughts.
Secondly, recognising difference and finding ways to work with that, is vital. It could be something as simple as understanding the preferences of each generation when it comes to communication mediums. Perhaps some prefer to email or text than pick up the phone. Others may find face-to-face the most useful way to have a conversation. Simply noticing these differences and helping everyone work with each other’s preferences can go a long way. At Amack, we’ve found that platforms that help everyone work together, but in their own different ways, to be really transformative. We use a platform called Monday.com, which does exactly that, and has everyone working, differently, together.
And don’t overlook the importance of finding common ground. Keeping it simple is most effective. That could be a regular Friday meet in the pub, or a soft benefit such as free fruit or coffee in the office. Not everyone will enjoy an afternoon white-water rafting, but who doesn’t enjoy a chat over a fancy coffee? And who knows what brilliant new ideas might arise when people from two generations get talking over a frothy coffee?
It's pleasantly surprising how simple turning a generational divide into a generational bridge can be. Now, who’s coming for a coffee? And what the heck is a Shakerato?... Never mind, we’ll give it a go and find out.