5 Why’s and How’s of Operating a Multigenerational Team

What does diversity really mean? It is a trend that is quickly gathering pace in the modern business environment motivating employers to be more flexible and agile. Today, it is not surprising to see people of different ages and cultural backgrounds working on the same project. Companies strive to provide every individual with equal opportunities for career growth.

Experience does not always equal more professionals and employers realize it. Creativity is what matters in the modern competitive world. Young candidates are given priority due to their ability to think outside the box and generate new ideas. 

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The effective work of any company depends on dozens of factors. One of the most important among them is effective communication and the interrelation between employees. A good example here would be services where the age of employees has no influence on their performance. For instance, clients of are looking for experienced authors who are experts in their field, they usually don’t care about how old their writer is. Nevertheless, when it comes to internal cooperation different age groups are often far from each other in a psychologiс and solve working issues in a variety of ways. 

When do the problems start? When people of different ages get together, generational conflicts might arise, which would lead to problems at work. It has been proven that 8 year age gap affects the way team members interact with each other, approach workplace issues, and participate in decision-making and problem-solving. Still, the age difference in relationships between them can play a negative role. Thus, there is a need to cooperate towards a common goal no matter what.

Why is it essential to know how to manage teamwork? It’s good when colleagues have established positive relations, but what to do when your employees would not communicate with each other in everyday life, due to the dissimilarities between them. A person can choose a job, but cannot choose colleagues. All these aspects influence the productivity and individual performance of each employee in the team.

However, different generations have not only difficulties in cooperation. So, what employers can do to handle all the differences and lead diverse teams to success? With the right approach, they can be very efficient, and communication in such a team becomes easy and enjoyable. The manager just needs to know the features of each of them, their main strengths, and their weaknesses. Considering all these features teamwork makes the dream work.

Generations at the Workplace – Who are they? 

When different generations are blended, employers should be made responsible for establishing a favorable environment for staff development. Without proper knowledge of generation peculiarities, managers cannot drive their diverse teams to better results. So, let’s look at different generations and their primary motivators at work. 

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Generation Jones – Valuable Experience and Mentoring

They are also called the baby boomers. They were born in the 50s of the 20th century. Being hardworking and diligent, such employees are driven by prestige and money. Such people often are not the sharpest tool in the shed, but work conscientiously and appreciate stability. Even when they retire, they often remain working as long as their health permits. The vast majority of them feel somewhat deprived and very sensitive to the recognition of their status.

At first glance, such workers seem too conservative and lack flexibility, but they have tremendous experience, which they generously share with their young colleagues. They can successfully conduct social projects of the company and can give a master class in areas where changes are rare. Usually, baby boomers are loyal to their authorities. The best motivation for them is benefits, respect, and a comfortable working place – everything that is an element of stability.

Generation X – High Flexibility and Hard Work

These innovative and progressive people were born between 1965 and 1980. They lived both at the time of the stable period of the past and during the global changes and restructuring in politics, economics, and worldview. Hardened by these difficulties, Gen X learned to think quickly and unconventionally, to work hard for results, and try to build a career. Such people strive to get a good education and be progressive, but they also appreciate stability.

Seminars, refresher courses, and additional training – are things that are always interesting to X. Such people also need fixed income and confidence in the future. They can be good leaders, as they are flexible, attentive, and able to negotiate. They are experienced enough to be authoritative, but at the same time are also interested in all modern ideas and events.

Millennials or Echo Boomers – The Energy, Ease, and Creativity

Millennials are also known as Gen Y or Echo Boomers were born between 1980 and 1995. These are people who grew up on the wave of freedom and new opportunities. They value independence and the possibility of rapid career growth. Unlike previous generations, Millennials do not accept authoritarianism. They are attracted by the ability to independently set goals, plan working hours and be able to self-realization.

Such employees show the best results under the leadership of the chief, who does not require total obedience and leaves place for independent decisions. For them, the authority of a person is not based on status, but on a personal example. For this reason, there can be conflicts between Generation Jones and Echo Boomers, and it is very important to pay attention to this.

Generation Z – Technological Advancement and Determination

People of Gen Z were born after 1995. They are young but they can be considered personnel, as the vast majority of them seek a way how to combine work and study. These young people have a high interest in the financial side of life. They will not waste time on study, if there is the confidence that it is not useful, therefore, they value development perspective and relevance. This is a generation that attaches great importance to the Internet and its capabilities. They work effectively only when they do not feel the pressure from above. Also, Gen Z is quite difficult to make new acquaintances.

What are some common rules for multigenerational teams which work almost for every company? 

  • Generation Jones should not be made heads if under their authority are Millennials and Z;
  • The best managers are Gen X people;
  • Corporate parties, gym coupons, etc. are able to significantly motivate Millennials;
  • 8 year age difference and less allows to unite people over a common project;
  • Z Gen may work remotely fairly well, the difference for the team will be small;
  • Quick projects are favorable for Millennials.

How to Rally the Team of Different Generations?

How to make a team drive, if the team has people with a huge age difference? Despite their diversity, you can find a way to organize fruitful collaboration and ensure every member feels convenient in his/her position. We prepared a list of 5 tips that will definitely lead you to impressive results:

  1. Educate your Team. Put your workers in the shoes of their peers and subordinates. People often step into conflict because they lack knowledge about colleagues and the motivators behind certain decisions. Organize training to provide your team with a chance to gain a better understanding of other generations. 
  2. Launch a Mentoring Program. Mentoring programs are good at building bonds between young and experienced workers. When it comes to age difference in relationships, such practice helps to get people together. Improved cooperation is beneficial to both parties: while Millennials and Generation Z workers can gain new insights into corporate life, older co-workers learn to find common ground with their younger colleagues. 
  3. Invest in Team-Building. A team-building event is a perfect place to communicate in an unofficial atmosphere. When you compete in a multigenerational team, nobody cares about age differences. Nothing unifies people like a common goal! 
  4. Pay Precise Attention to Onboarding.  Onboarding defines how a newly-hired employee views your company. If you engage all employees in the process, a newcomer feels emotionally better and has an opportunity to build relationships with all team members. Practice proves that age differences are prone to vanish in a friendly and cooperative environment. 
  5. Look for Similarities. Don’t focus on differences, they separate. Pay attention to similarities, the bridge. Do all your team members enjoy swimming? Organize training for all employees and let them do the things they like the most. 

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are multiple ways to build effective collaboration. Although managing a cross-generation team is a real challenge, you can benefit from these differences. All you need is to find the right approach suitable to your unique work environment. Be cooperative, stay friendly, get rid of all the biases, and your efforts will pay off soon. Create a diverse workplace where everyone has a chance to thrive. 

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