Look around your workplace and you’ll discover the age range of employees that represent your company. Today’s small businesses are more multi-generational than ever, and there are ways to blend the generations for better performance.
Baby boomers, gen-Xers, and millennials could very well be working together in the business. You might even have help from people of the “silent generation.” They all have different ways of working and this could cause conflict.
It also presents fascinating opportunities that could improve production. Here are seven tips for blending generations in your business:
- Interact — Interaction leads to better understanding. Employers and older employees shouldn’t assume younger workers know what to do just because they haven’t asked questions. “Be proactive and make daily check-ins a habit,” advises Sue Hawkes, author of Chasing Perfection: Shatter the Illusion, Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success. “It gives them a chance to air thoughts and ask questions.”
- Identify common ground — There’s too much attention paid to differences among the generations when they often have a lot in common. For example, millennials have a reputation for having a sense of entitlement. “Yet research shows they share some traits with entrepreneurs,” Hawkes notes.
- Break the tradition of the older the wiser — True, experience often counts in making decisions, but new blood offers unique ideas that just might work. Although different generations “may be part of the team, the right idea should always be taken,” writes Manny Rodriguez in Behavioral Science in the 21st Century.
- Try balancing work and personal lives — The generations usually have different needs. One generation may want flexible hours while another would like a schedule to leave work before kids come home. Some prefer working from home. If it’s possible to arrange different scheduling to accommodate each generation, the balance of work and life can make happier employees, Rodriguez points out.
- Change routines — Boomers may be geared toward traditional training methods or regular meetings. Millennials or gen-Xers prefer technology-based types of learning and may not like meetings when nothing is accomplished, according to The Wall Street Journal. Limiting meetings and trying different approaches could help all generations.
- Communicate differently — Older workers are used to sharing ideas or advice over the phone or in person. Millennials have grown up with texting and instant messages.
- Educate yourself — Small business owners could benefit from courses, books, publications, or videos that help them adapt to generational differences. Employers could also consider professionals hold a class on these issues for all employees.
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