Five Ways to Leverage Generation Differences and Create Better Places to Work

 

After writing and speaking on the topic of cross generation communication for over seven years, I’ve collected best practices from clients and people who have attended my programs and/or read my articles.

 

Here are five ways people have told me they were able to leverage generation differences to recruit, hire and retain talent and create work environments where people love to do their best work: 

 

1- Advertised on Craig’s list for entry-level positions that needed to be filled quickly. “We got responses before we were able to finish posting the full job description.

“ In the past we had only advertised in the newspapers, but we didn’t get the cross section of candidates we wanted. and had no idea how to get younger people in our recruiting pool.”

Simma Lieberman 

"The Inclusionist" 

Creating workplaces where people love to do their best work and customers love to do business
 
Simma Lieberman Associates 
510.527.0700 
Fax: 510.527/0723 
1185 Solano Ave. PMB 142 
Albany, CA 94706 
www.simmalieberman.com  

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2- Provided feedback on a regular basis instead of waiting for their semi-annual performance evaluation.

“We heard that Gen Y people needed feedback more often. I decided to try giving feedback at least once a week, focusing on strengths and suggesting ways to correct mistakes. Not only did this improve my relationships with Gen Y, but baby boomers and Gen Hers told me that frequent feedback helped them feel more engaged.

 

3- Showed appreciation for baby boomers and the seniors in the workplace.

“ I’m younger than many other employees that I manage. I’d heard that there was some resentment because of my age, and felt that I wasn’t taken seriously. I began to ask my older employees to share some of the lessons they’d learned through the years, and let them know how much I valued their experience. It didn’t take very long before they were willing to share their knowledge and be less defensive.”

 

4- Created a series of technology classes geared for different levels of understanding.

“We didn’t make the assumption that all younger employees were technology savvy and all older employees were out of touch. We had Gen Yand Gen X employees who took the beginner classes. While some of them knew how to use technology they didn’t know how to apply it to our workplace. There were baby boomers in the advanced classes who reminded us that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were over 50 years old. We even had a couple of seniors in those classes, who were able to bring merge their knowledge of technology with their knowledge and years of experience.”

 

5- Set up cross-generation mutual mentoring programs.

“It’s amazing how much we get done now. Not only is there transfer of knowledge, but also there is less suspicion and stereotyping of people based on age differences. There is more cooperation, and employees are more willing to help each other.

 

I know how much I’ve learned, how my business continues to grow and how much I appreciate working and collaborating with people years older and younger than me. 

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1 Comments

  • John Agno

    Very good suggestions to reduce 'generational conflict' at work. Here are some pointers for Baby Boomers in their generational interactions:

    Technology: Keep it up-to-date for Gen X to stay productive. For Gen Y encourage suggestions and don't fear change. Gen Y is more comfortable with technology than any other group. Learn from them.

    Compensation: Be willing to negotiate with Gen X and offering perks if you can't budge on compensation. For Gen Y, highlight the importance of building their resume instead of their bank account. An impressive work history can make all the difference in a slumping economy.

    Attire: Give Gen X a heads-up if they should dress nicer for specific meetings or customer interactions. Since Gen Y are new to the job market (and might be oblivious to your company's culture), let them know that dressing better will help defeat "slacker" misconceptions, build credibility with executives, and help their career over the long haul.

    Work Ethic: Trust Gen X and understand that the flexibility to telecommute or work outside business hours will help you gain their trust. Appeal to Gen Y's career goals. Accept the inevitable that by the time this generation is fully in the workplace, the standard work week will likely be replaced by a new set of rules based on productivity...not hours at their desk.

    Source: Business@Work, BusinessWeek, August 25, 2008