One Team, Many Generations – How to Make it Work
Many businesses are electing to institute teams of workers, rather than the traditional approach of individualized work. The collaborative approach offers numerous benefits, enticing more companies to adopt the strategy. Whenever you put groups of people together, there is always the chance for conflict. It could be due in part to personality types, miscommunication, or generational differences. At this point multi-generational teams are inescapable. Currently, there are mostly four different generations in the workforce; Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. As time goes on more Traditionalists are retiring and leaving the workforce while companies are hiring more Millennials. The juxtaposition of the two generations could not be more different. Traditionalists have shaped most of businesses policies and favor hierarchical structures and individualized efforts. Millennials, on the other hand, have been collaborating since grade school. As the first generation to be born into technology, they favor the flexibility that technology allows. Baby Boomers are similar to traditionalists, while Gen Xers bridge the difference between the older generations and Millennials. How do you put these different generations into teams and get positive results?
Creating a business or office culture isn’t always a conscious effort, but it should be. The culture of your office can determine the success of implementing multi-generational teams. While many startups that have success using teams tend to have more linear corporate structures, it doesn’t mean that a company with a traditional hierarchal structure can’t implement teams successfully. Being able to openly share thoughts without fear of criticism or negativity is critical. Teams thrive in open and fun environments that allow for the free exchange of ideas. If your company’s culture isn’t conducive to teams, now may be the time to take steps to update it.
Consider What is Valuable
Each generation has so much to offer; it’s important to place value on the experience of the more mature generations while also appreciating the ingenuity and efficiency of the younger generations. It can be a challenging order. It is dangerous to place a higher importance on more mature contributors simply due to experience. More youthful voices should also be given credence. This value is based on mutual respect and is critical for success. Traditionalists may want to take more of an authoritative approach, wanting subordinates to do what they are told rather than share their opinion on processes. The younger generations, especially millennials, seek work that is rewarding and allows their voice to be heard. Millennials tend to become disillusioned when their input isn’t valued and will leave to find a position where they feel that they can make a difference.
Teams are most successful when everyone feels included, understood, and appreciated. When implementing teams, allow time for everyone to get to know each other. If possible, have team members gather outside of the office such as a coffee shop or casual environment to introduce themselves and become acquainted. If your team is remote or located in different areas that prevent a communal meeting, plan for a video conference and encourage discussion on non-work related topics that team members can connect over, such as sports or what they are binge-watching on Netflix. Regardless of generation, finding common ground will allow your team to connect and function as a single cohesive unit.
Today’s teams may not be in the same office, which can add a complicating layer to collaboration. Having the right tools for teams to connect is critical. There are plenty of apps that offer a single feature such as file sharing, business chat or video conferencing. Newer apps are available that provide a single-source solution, which can simplify onboarding and save money. To select the best tool for your team, examine what your needs are. How are you expecting your teams to work together, and what type of work are they completing? Considering your needs will help you decide if you just need business chat or if you will require multiple features for your teams to be successful.
Multi-generational teams are entirely feasible at any company; they just require respect and understanding. Your company can quickly capitalize on the benefits of being able to share concepts between more experienced workers and those just entering the field. By providing an environment that is conducive to collaboration your company will be able to get the most out of teams.