The workforce of the future consists the most diverse group of individuals coming together under one roof. Generally, the two main groups that appear not to see eye to eye are Baby Boomers (49 to 67 years old) and Millennials (13 to 33 years old). The older generation of Baby Boomers tend to think that younger employees such as Millennials lack discipline and focus while Millennials think that their colleagues who are Baby Boomers lack creativity and resist change.
Blaming each other due to the age factor only perpetuates conflict. Here are some ways each employee regardless of age can do their part in creating a conducive environment for success at the workplace.
1. Listen to understand or before forming an opinion. We often overlook the importance of listening more and talking less (there is a good reason why humans are gifted with two ears to listen!). Although talking is important to express your opinion and concerns, listening is equally important. Giving the person on your same team and others in your department and office the benefit of doubt by listening before forming an opinion is a great way to bridge the gap with colleagues from different age groups.
2. Engage in open discussion. To achieve a mutual goal, we need to be more willing to engage in discussions with all parties involved in a particular project. If you disagree, justify your stand with facts rather than being defensive. Seek clarification to be on the same page and offer your assistance where possible.
3. Avoid making assumptions. When things don’t meet your expectations address the issue based on facts rather than why you think a colleague was not able to deliver as agreed, for example, he or she is known to lack focus. It never hurts to clarify matters at the outset on what your role or expectations are for a particular task or assignment.
4. Give constructive feedback instead of criticism. Practice making your case within 30 seconds in a meeting or discussion to avoid conflict or coming across as being dominant. If you sense a colleague is being too silent or defensive, pause and clarify matters – ask for their opinion and reassure them of the common concerns to meet the mutual goal. Offer assistance when they need help or connect them with another colleague who can guide them accordingly.