So far this month we’ve looked at the great value that can come from a multigenerational workplace as well as how you, as an older professional, can build those strong work relationships with younger colleagues. Now let’s look at the multigenerational workplace from a managing position.
Maybe you yourself are a manager looking to make such an environment work, or maybe you’re just someone who wants to see your office thrive. Age shouldn’t be a barrier in a professional relationship, so ensuring a workplace of this kind runs effectively, it’s a matter of making age a non-issue. That can be more difficult than it seems, but here are a few things to keep in mind that help to encourage everyone to work together while dealing with the different personalities that will inevitably exist.
Make communication a top priority.
This is one of the most important aspects of any workplace no matter how big and who makes up the workforce. How communication flows through the office can determine the effectiveness of problem solving, delegation of work and overall quality of what is being produced. Age can indeed be a bit of a barrier when it comes to communication, so establishing it as an important goal for the whole office is essential. Set weekly meetings where everyone on the team can get face-time with each other, or at the very least let them hear from each other. Also, identify areas where communication is not working and address the situation quickly before it becomes a habit. Keeping communication strong helps to build the relationships among your workers and will likely help to resolve problems before they happen.
Recognize good work.
Whether we admit it or not, being recognized for good work is very important. It’s not just about getting a pat on the back, but it helps to build confidence in your job performance, keeps you more engaged in work and confirms you’re on the right path. It’s something a manager should be aware of in any office. However, when dealing with a multigenerational workforce, you have to be careful that age doesn’t factor into this recognition. For example, some see millennials as needing more validation in their work than older generations, so a manager might put more emphasis on recognizing them. That’s a mistake. It alienates other workers and possibly reinforces subpar work. Let the work alone speak for itself. It’s a fair way of encouraging the best work from everyone.
Encourage people to move outside their comfort zones.
As we previously looked at, one of the great benefits of the multigenerational office is the opportunity for sharing. There are a wide variety of skills and experience at play in an office like this, and having your workforce openly share their knowledge with each other strengthens the whole team. However, to do this you have to ensure people don’t just stick with what they know and what they’re good at. For example, an older professional might think they can avoid tech-related tasks because the younger workers can handle that. Push people outside their comfort zones where they are forced to learn from their colleagues and benefit from the knowledge at hand.
Don’t try to make one size fit all.
As much as you shouldn’t let age become a big factor in the workplace, you do have to acknowledge that differences do exist. Generations communicate differently, have different interests, absorb things differently. It would be a mistake to apply the same method for dealing with these issues to everyone, expecting they would all just adapt. The more effective way is to let the individual reveal to you how best to work with them. When trying to make one size fit all, there is bound to be some discomfort. Be willing to be flexible. This doesn’t mean you have to turn the whole office upside down to accommodate everyone’s preferences, but be open to using multiple methods of managing this very diverse workforce.
Every workforce needs a little managing to keep things moving smoothly and effectively. The key thing to remember is that a multigenerational workforce is no different. It is not more difficult to manage and the methods of managing are not too different either. Take this approach as well the tips we’ve given here and there is no reason your office won’t be operating at its full potential.