There’s a generation gap inside your organization and if you continue to ignore it your productivity will continue to suffer. “What gap?”; “What continue?” you ask. While most of us don’t realize it, there is a fundamental difference in how various generations approach work. It is becoming more pronounced and thus creating more workplace problems than ever before. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

Baby Boomers grumble Millennials are easily distracted, lack discipline and commitment. Millennials feel Boomers are insensitive, resistant to change and lack creativity. Who’s right? Both? Neither? Well, yes.

There are potentially 4 generations currently interacting in your organization:

  • Silent                            (born 1925 – 1945)
  • Baby Boomers         (born 1946 – 1964)
  • Generation X            (born 1965 – 1981)
  • Millennials                 (born 1982 – 2003)

Generational differences are real and more than just “they don’t understand” or “back in my day…” Not convinced? Let me demonstrate.

To begin to understand, members of each generation shares common experiences in 3 areas*:

  1. How they were raised                                 (overprotected vs. free-range)
  2. What critical events took place during their formative years    (war vs. peace)
  3. How they learned to communicate           (radio vs. cell phone)

So why is this important? Because these shares experiences define how they developed, created priorities & prepared to work. Therefore:

  • Silent are risk adverse, conformists & are inclined toward compromise
  • Baby Boomers are driven by deeply-held values
  • Generation X feels alienated, are risk-takers, entrepreneurial yet pragmatic
  • Millennials are group-oriented, problem solvers & institution builders

Knowing this we can take advantage of each generations’ strengths to build a collaborative team to conquer problems & increase productivity. Here’s how:

  • Silents: leverage their desire to be risk adverse to find solutions to conflict. Put them in positions to facilitate.
  • Baby Boomers: Emphasize that values guide the behavior of your organization and sincerely develop common values.
  • Gen X: want to hear how the firm will help them achieve their individual goals. If established properly, these can contribute to achieving organizational goals. Tactics to support the strategy.
  • Millennials: want to hear that your company operates in partnerships, both internally and externally. Stakeholders matter so emphasize the team results.

Clearly, each generation has a different approach, yet can be knitted together just as engineers, finance & production people can be collaborative when fighting a common challenge.

Want a little more detail on this? Take a peek at Chapter G – Generations in the Workplace in THE Book on…Business From A to Z; The 260 Most Important Answers You Need to Know