Bridging the Generation Gap: How to Get All Employees Working Together Effectively

Tensions in the workplace have always existed, especially when it’s between different generations. In today’s workplace, baby boomers are usually in leadership positions while millennials increasingly dominate the rest of the workforce. Recently, millennials passed Gen Xers as the largest share of the workforce, making up one-third of employees.

Successfully managing multiple generations and getting everyone to work together effectively can be a challenge for companies. The better you can collaborate across generations, the more smoothly your organization will run. That’s why managers need to focus on not just hiring the right talent, but also making sure they understand how to work together to propel the company forward.

Together with your chief HR officer, ensure that your executives and team leaders are focusing on these 4 tips to help your employees collaborate effectively, regardless of generation.

1. Establish common ground. Start by sharing your company’s core values—the principles that guide every corporate effort—during the recruiting process, so prospective employees know if the company will be a good fit for them.

If your team is ever out of sync, take a moment to refocus on these values. By acknowledging everyone is working toward a common goal, it will make it easier for a diverse workforce to communicate and collaborate better. A quick reminder of core values will help everyone involved to remember their common ground and reestablish the group identity.

2. Leverage each individual’s strengths. Each employee has a particular strength. Whether it’s an older generation’s expertise and “been there, done that” experience, or a newer employee’s outside-the-box thinking, everyone brings something unique to the table. After all, that’s why you hired them.

Be conscious of what each team member’s strength is so you can make the most of it. When working in a cross-generational setting, each individual can offer his or her own unique background, skills or experience set to help projects move forward.

“If your team is ever out of sync, take a moment to refocus on your core values.”

3. Conduct regular performance conversations. Many large organizations today are getting rid of annual performance reviews. That’s because most find them to be time-consuming and not effective in helping employees improve their performance in real time.

Instead of sitting down with employees once a year to discuss their performance, establish a process to have all managers and team leaders chat regularly with their staff about what’s working and what’s not.

Additionally, instruct your managers to ask employees how they feel they are contributing to the team’s or company’s mission. Keep everyone focused on concrete tasks and projects that relate directly to the company’s greater goal. By making sure everyone knows they are doing their part to drive the company forward, they will feel more engaged and eager to help a project or team succeed.

4. Create mentorship opportunities. One way to tackle the problem head on is to pair together employees from different generations. By doing so, younger workers can benefit from an older worker’s experience and already developed skillset. Additionally, older generations might also learn from the younger employees—perhaps mastering a new technology or embracing a new idea.

This pairing can also help different generations understand how to communicate effectively with one another and identify particular skills or strengths they might need for a future project.

With older generations delaying retirement as newer generations increasingly enter the workplace, effective collaboration will be key for business success today. Although each generation and individual will have their own preferred working style, following these tips will help your workers and managers recognize each other’s strengths and foster greater cohesiveness across the entire company.

CEOs can find out more about making employees work together more effectively at the CEO Talent Summit.

Patrick Thean :Patrick Thean is CEO and co-founder of Rhythm Systems, a strategic planning and business growth strategy company (http://www.rhythmsystems.com).