When developing intergenerational connectivity, it is essential to focus on the connecting points that unite generations, rather than dissimilarities.
- Mentoring: Mentoring is the collective “how” in work. Organizations strive for mutual support and tolerance with a strong commitment to inclusiveness. In order to accomplish this, companies must train leaders to be better equipped to communicate, mentor, inspire, and authentically care about their employees. Developing a mentoring structure that identifies employee goals, needs, and then setting up support models, such as one-on-one sessions, intergenerational group sessions, and even “speed mentoring” where employees ask questions of the organization’s leaders, will encourage knowledge-sharing relationships. Baby Boomers can pass on the institutional knowledge, Generation X can bring structure and focus, Generation Y provides unique connections and Generation Z support innovation. “Reverse mentoring” can also be very effective, using technology to give younger team members the opportunity to share their skills with more senior colleagues.
- Mastering: Mastering is a creative “why” in work. Open communication with customized messaging tailored to individual need provides Generation Y and Generation Z with continuous feedback loops, while annual performance reviews continue for Baby Boomers and Builders. Training managers to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills will ensure an open and inclusive workspace where employees can share. Bringing generations togethers together by conducting awareness sessions provides an opportunity to educate one another about each generation’s history, values, culture, and norms. Developing a sense of purpose beyond profit by putting more emphasis on opportunities for growth, promotions based on competence and honoring social responsibility, creates an environment of ambition, connection and loyalty. Embedding the mission/vision of the organization into each employee’s ambitions provides a connective purpose between generations.
- Motivating: Motivating is the connective “what” in work. Each generation has wants and needs based on different ways they value work. Baby Boomers and Builders have less family obligations and may wish to work part-time but still want to be involved in decisions. Individuals from Generation X are the “sandwich generation”, caring both elders and children while paying mortgages and saving for their children’s college and retirement. Generation Y look for the “work to live” balance in their lives. Professional development, however, is a constant request of each generation. The best solution in providing training to a multi-generational workforce isn’t prioritizing but by personalizing the learning. This requires customizing development for each employee to engage them in the material and their growth. Learning tools can be a platform that provides customized pathways to achieve individuals goals or provide necessary training. Technology, in-person training, and experiential opportunities that fit the learning styles of individual employees provide awareness-building a Millennials move into management.
Summary: Organizations thrive leaders focus custom approaches based on how each generation sees the world and how values are shaped by their experience. Those values, in turn, shape their place in the workplace. They key to respect between generations is the recognition of uniqueness in each generations’ talent, potential, expertise and motivation in the multi-generational workplace by creating customized opportunities to collaborate, connect and foster successful relationships.
Source: Linda Sollars, MA, GCDFi, CMCS, President of Creating Purpose, LLC.