Ten Ways to Integrate Baby Boomers and Generation-Xers in the Workplace
"It's always self-defeating to pretend to the style of a generation younger than your own; it simply erases your own experience in history."
- Renata Adler
The demand for experienced CEOs and managers is on the rise. Complicating the ability of leaders to be effective is the workplace generation gap that sometimes exists between Generation X workers and their older, Baby Boomer counterparts. Here are some secrets to breaking down those barriers:
- Provide stretch assignments. Pigeonholing an associate -- regardless of age -- is a big mistake. You can promote risk-taking opportunities by providing safety nets so learning is constructive.
- Relax the old dress code. Come to a middle ground on dress style that appeals to the majority. Be flexible -- overlook piercings, tattoos and other superficial differences.
- Make feedback part of the daily routine. Try kicking off each day with a team meeting for prioritizing projects and dealing with challenges. Give on-the-spot feedback and agree on steps to strengthen weaknesses.
- Fun is universally appealing and was never part of the "deal" under the old work ethic. Workers basically put on the yoke every morning and did whatever was necessary to get the job done. Today's workers expect an environment that supports play and creativity.
- Provide multiple forums for input. We all retain information differently -- some listen; some do; some observe; and some utilize a combination thereof. Using all forms of communication will ensure that you hit everyone's hot button.
- Condone balance between work and life. Just because your kids are already in college, your coworker may be starting a family or trying to finish a degree at night. Balance breeds enthusiasm.
- Get down in the trenches. There is no guarantee for respect or buying into the company's goals just because of title or age. Show your enthusiasm for projects by getting involved -- it will rub off on everyone concerned.
- Agree on outcomes up-front. Determine and work toward common goals once everyone is absolutely sure what the goals are and how they will be measured. It gets everyone on board and pulling the load together.
- Show the relationship of the individual's contribution to the big picture. Each person's value is added by understanding how he or she personally fits into the success of the organization as a whole.
- Minimize hierarchy. Forget giving power to the most experienced team member. Dole out the power and decision-making responsibilities to those actually getting the work done.