As more and more generations join and begin to intermingle in the workforce, it’s becoming increasingly important for coworkers, leaders, and their teams to figure out ways to effectively collaborate and develop a workforce that honors and harnesses the power of a multi-generation workforce. Rather than allowing different ages and generation-specific traits to inhibit growth and development, top companies and their teams are instead fully embracing a team dynamic that capitalizes on different perspectives. By combining the best practices of multiple generations, companies can help bridge the generational gap, foster understanding and respect between different age groups, and ultimately greatly improve productivity for both parties. In this blog, we will explore what multi-generational best practices look like in action and how they can create a stronger team dynamic that benefits everyone involved.
What Is A Generational Gap?
A generational gap is a difference in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that exists between individuals of different generations. In the workplace, this gap can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and challenges. Since different generations have grown up in unique cultural and social contexts, they tend to have different work styles, communication preferences, expectations, and values. The impact of a generational gap can be profound, leading to decreased productivity, employee engagement, and morale. Bridging the gap requires a willingness to collaborate, learn, and value the strengths of each generation, creating a more cohesive and dynamic workplace culture. The generational gap in the workplace is widening as an increasing number of members of younger generations join the workforce. Bridging the gap requires a willingness to collaborate, learn, and value the strengths of each generation, creating a more cohesive and dynamic workplace culture.
Identifying Multi-Generational Best Practices
Multi-generational best practices are skills and strategies that are trademarks of individuals from different generations. When utilized wisely, teams and businesses can maximize and learn from the particular strengths of each generation in order to succeed. For example, Baby Boomers have often honed networking skills that can help their organization connect with industry leaders, while Millennials and Gen Z have a knack for navigating the new technological landscape that is constantly evolving. Another example could be a team consisting of a Baby Boomer, a Generation Xer, and a Millennial collaborating on a project, with each member bringing their unique skills and perspectives to the table. The Baby Boomer may provide historical context and experience, while the Generation Xer may bring a strong work ethic and problem-solving skills, and the Millennial may offer fresh ideas and technological expertise. If each individual skill set and strength is used to benefit the larger team, impressive things can happen!
In order to harness the power of multi-generational best practices, teams should first take the time to identify each other’s strengths. Then, using that knowledge, they can work together to become a better, stronger, more impactful team. Rather than relying solely on one generation’s skills and abilities, tapping into the unique skills of multiple generations will serve to create a more efficient and effective team. For instance, at Office Dynamics International, we specialize in training executive assistants and executives to build their relationships to grow their company’s success. So, if we were to encounter a Baby Boomer executive who excels at networking and relationship building, we would encourage them to team up with their millennial administrative assistant, who has superb social media skills, to create a wider range of connections for their organization. When teams take advantage of this approach, they increase their power and presence.
In addition to collaborating and leveraging each other’s strengths, communication is also key in leveraging multi-generational best practices. Being from a different generation with a different communication style does not preclude success in the workplace. By embracing different communication styles and approaches, executives and administrative assistants can foster a stronger sense of understanding and respect between generations, leading to a more cohesive team dynamic. It often provides a deeper level of communication because team members develop skills they never had before. Although we teach this specifically to executive assistants, learning the different communication styles common among professionals can benefit any office setting and help strengthen a multigenerational team.
How You Can Benefit From A Multigenerational Workforce
Combining multiple generations’ best practices in the workplace can yield a multitude of benefits. Perhaps one of the most powerful and easily recognized benefits is increased productivity. By leveraging the best practices of different generations, office relationships such as between a director and a manager, an administrative professional and a CEO, and executives and administrative assistants can work together more efficiently and effectively, resulting in a more productive team. That’s an undeniable win!
Also, combining multiple generations’ best practices can foster a stronger sense of teamwork and collaboration, deepening the strategic partnership between a leader and their team. By recognizing and valuing each other’s skills and perspectives, a business can build stronger working relationships, leading to a more cohesive team dynamic. This can greatly improve job satisfaction and morale, especially for administrative assistants, as everyone feels valued and appreciated. A team member who genuinely feels appreciated is more likely to stay with an organization, consistently provide high-quality work products, and contribute innovative ideas to help their company and team succeed. That’s right! By tapping into the unique skills and perspectives of different generations, teams can come up with innovative ideas and approaches that they may not have otherwise considered. This can help organizations stay competitive and adapt to changing market conditions.
As the leader in training for administrative and executive teams, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one other huge benefit. Combining multiple generations’ best practices can organically create powerful professional development and learning opportunities. Working professionals from different generations can learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge, leading to personal and professional growth and development. It’s important to note here too, that, as a business leader, you should consider a variety of training and development opportunities that cater to the learning styles of different generations. Consider the fact that Baby Boomers may prefer traditional classroom-style training, while Millennials may prefer online learning modules. By offering a variety of training options, businesses can ensure that all team members have access to professional development opportunities that cater to their individual preferences and needs. In the same vein, team members from different generations who attend industry events and conferences together can maximize the investment and enrich the experience for both members. By listening from two different perspectives and expanding their professional networks together, they could uncover new business opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations that benefit the organization as a whole.
This can also create incredible opportunities for mentorship and coaching, which is essential for long-term success. Mentoring and coaching programs can be a terrific way to transfer knowledge and experience between generations. By pairing employees from different generations, organizations can foster learning and growth opportunities that benefit both parties and the company as a whole. For example, a Baby Boomer executive may mentor a Millennial administrative assistant in leadership skills, while the Millennial may teach the executive about social media trends and technology advancements. This bidirectional information exchange could become one of the cornerstones of your organization’s approach to learning and development.
Tips For Embracing A Multi-Generational Approach
- Be open-minded and respectful of different perspectives. It’s important to remember that each generation has its own unique set of experiences and perspectives that have shaped their values and beliefs. Don’t belittle another generation’s experience. Instead, when you’re working with someone from a different generation, try to be open-minded and respectful of their point of view.
- Be willing to learn from each other. One of the best ways to bridge the generational gap is to be willing to learn from each other. Be curious! Ask questions, share your own experiences, and be open to new ideas. By learning from each other, we can gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and work together more effectively.
- Focus on common goals. When you’re working with someone from a different generation, it’s important to focus on the common goals you share. There’s almost always a larger picture or goal at play. Think about what that is and that will help you to build a strong working relationship and overcome any challenges you may face.
- Celebrate diversity. The generational gap is a reality of the modern workplace, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. By celebrating diversity and embracing the unique perspectives of each generation, you can promote a more inclusive and productive workplace. That’s powerful stuff!
Leveraging multi-generational best practices is a critical component of success in the modern workplace. By embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of each generation, executives and their assistants can become a stronger, more cohesive team that’s more productive and innovative. With effective communication, collaboration, and a willingness to learn from one another, multigenerational teams can and do achieve remarkable things.
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