Many companies are struggling with generational issues. Younger workers want to know why the older generation doesn’t want to share their years of experience and knowledge with them. Older workers resent the demands of younger workers for more flexibility, their difficulty responding to authority and preference for so much texting or emails versus face-to-face communication. Even if a company has employees complete a survey as to what aspects of a good workplace are most important to them, I have seen management get resentful with the comments on the survey rather than really listening to “reasonable” suggestions on how to make their “community” better. When employees realize that nothing will ever change, apathy can set in and aggravation increases. How do you transform frustrated workers into a cohesive unit? I will be providing tips from my 2-hour Breaking Generational Barriers program in a total of five postings.
To begin with basic intergenerational tips, consider:
- Help each other focus on the work at hand and really LISTEN to what each person is saying. This requires patience while seeing every individual as a “person” first and an employee second.
- Ensure that there are face-to-face staff meetings as well as sending out emails. Use emails to send agendas, detailed items or information, and strategies that need to be prepared before the meetings. Use follow-up emails for review so that everyone is on the same page. Use “live” meetings as a way to monitor facial expressions and body language, which speaks volumes about one’s attitude and what he or she is really thinking. I am not suggesting wasting a lot of time in meetings but don’t let them go by the wayside. We are human beings, not human doings.
- No matter what position you hold in the company, promote teamwork, respect and open communication.
- Become extremely aware of each individual’s talents so you can use them to your company’s greatest advantage. Consider who gets excited when given technical responsibilities, who likes to network and is a convincing speaker and presenter, and who is very happy in his or her cubicle processing invoices. The happiest, most efficient and contented employees are the ones doing what they do best. Expecting extremely left-brained, introverted techies to also sell products and/or services can cause them to dread going to work, being forced to do something totally out of their realm of expertise.
- Give individuals the opportunity to do their job in a way that is most efficient and enjoyable for them rather than just saying, “This is the way it’s always been done.” When they can reach the desired results in the required time allotment, as a team player, they will thrive and stay focused.
- Set your parameters and expectations, be there for questions and guidance, show appreciation and give praise for even the small things. The results will be a staff that works harder and is motivated to go the extra mile. These are qualities that ALL generations want and need!
Stay tuned for Part 2: Understanding the Boomer generation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC. She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at firstname.lastname@example.org.