Age doesn’t determine success, but it can cause conflict in the office. It’s important for managers to set standards of mutual respect and understanding in order to foster a positive working environment for all employees. Here’s what every manager needs to know about the generational gap between millennials and baby boomers:
Common Generational Gap Frustrations
With such contrasting upbringings, millennials and baby boomers often struggle to see eye to eye. While some of the issues stem from faulty assumptions, boomers often feel that millennials are unprofessional, impatient and lazy workers who need hand-holding, while the younger generation believes these older employees are slow to adopt technology and compete in the digital world. It often frustrates boomers that millennials seem to crave unnecessary recognition, but younger generations feel “old-school” employees are unapproachable and unwilling to embrace change.
Everyone Brings Value to the Table
Millennials are tech-savvy employees with promising potential and fresh ideas. Boomers have years of wisdom from countless professional experiences and relationships. Managers must unite employees by demonstrating how these differences are all valuable to their businesses.
For instance, millennials:
- Think outside the box.
- Collaborate for better results.
- Learn and work quickly.
- Navigate digital platforms with ease.
Baby boomers offer different abilities, such as:
- Strong relationship-building skills.
- Understanding of office politics.
- Far-reaching work and life experiences.
- Long standing respect from senior executives.
These varying characteristics actually lend themselves to vibrant, effective teams if given the right environment and leadership.
Mentoring Rather Than Managing
Especially in creative and digital fields, younger generation often fill the same positions as those who are older than them. Sometimes they even manage older employees. To avoid tensions, managers should foster a two-way learning environment. Both parties can mentor each other on their respective strong suits. Millennials can learn about career development and business politics, then share their own insights on digital solutions and creative thinking.
Managers should also hold all employees to the same standard. No matter the generation, all employees should stay up to date on the latest industry trends, attend conferences, earn new certifications and request the trainings they need to improve.
While boomers prefer formal interactions in person, millennials are comfortable with digital communication. Fun fact from a recent Cyberlink survey: One in eight millennials would prefer to be fired over text or instant message rather than in person. Managers should help all employees understand when it is appropriate to meet face-to-face, pick up the phone or send an email. When there’s a standard process, it creates an equal playing field across generations.
It’s also helpful to enhance internal communications. Move desks around, pair millennials and boomers together, encourage collaboration around the office and provide opportunities for employees to get to know each other on a more personal level. This will create a comfortable environment for learning and interaction across generations.
Mutual Respect is Key
It’s critical for both generations to reciprocate values of respect, understanding, accountability, communication, collaboration and mentoring. Managers should encourage both parties to build relationships and value each other’s perspectives. As a result, companies will harness the individual strengths of both millennials and baby boomers.
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Whether you’re looking for eager millennials or wise boomers, the recruitment specialists at Profiles can match you with top talent.