Building the Bridge
Although there are a number of differences between each generation in the workplace, there are several ways to bridge the generational gap. Understanding each employee’s strengths and weaknesses is essential for today’s employer. Why should understanding the characteristics of each generation be any different? We’ve established that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials each have specific traits and characteristics that differ from one another. Let’s focus in on these differences and explore opportunities in which these generations can be brought together.
Use multiple training styles.
Discussion groups, one-on-one coaching, feedback and online learning- each one of these training styles is an appropriate way to communicate with and train employees. A Gen Xer will respond more positively to a one-on-one meeting while a Millennial craves constant feedback and reassurance. Also, be sure to offer training topics that are appropriate for all experience levels. Millennial employees are (generally) more knowledgeable when it comes to technology, so it wouldn’t do them much good to attend a basic computers course. However, training Baby Boomers in workplace specific software would be beneficial. Feeling adventurous? Allow experienced employees to interact with and assist other employees during training- especially if they’re experienced within your organization. And don’t forget to cover common characteristics and qualities of each generation with your employees. It’s not enough for you to recognize the similarities and differences. Educating the entire organization will only benefit everyone in the long run.
Utilize various forms of communication.
Tech-savvy Millennials may prefer text-messaging and social media, Gen Xers grew up in a world of e-mail, and Baby Boomers typically prefer to communicate in person. The importance of understanding how to use each form of communication is high, but organizations must be clear in what is acceptable versus what is not. There is no “right” method of communication, but there are certain forms that work better in some organizations. Establish which methods of communication your employees understand best and utilize most often. Find what works for you and your business.
Remember: Good business is based on understanding others. The majority of us think that the correct way, and the only way, is our way. To work effectively, maximize efficiency, and increase productivity, employers and employees need to recognize generational characteristics and learn how to use them effectively in dealing with each individual. So go ahead- build the bridge. Encourage employees to interact with someone from another generation. You never know what success it might bring to your organization.