More than ever, our operations are staffed by employees from at least four, if not five, generations. This differences in the predominant behaviors, values and interests of workers in varying stages of their life and career can cause conflict. Yet these differences also make for rich opportunities to learn and grow.
As educators, we value the old maxim, “by your students, you will be taught” – meaning that we have something to teach and something to learn. If your point of view is more, “I don’t understand youth today” or “I can’t stand those old-timers,” you are likely to stoke contention and see only the negative sides of a multi-generational workforce.
If, on the other hand, you are excited about what you can learn from someone with a different life perspective or from someone at the opposite end of their career experience, you are likely to nurture stronger communication, empathy and new knowledge. It does not matter what point of your career you are currently enjoying.
If you are only a few years in or near retirement or ascending to your career achievement, we all can learn from one another. If we are open to that learning, if we are patient with listening to one another’s histories, and if we are generous in wanting to share what we may contribute to our teams, we will all be better managers, leaders and service professionals.
After all, if we can’t be considerate of each other, how good can we be our guests? So, how are you organizing teams, meetings, or committees to harvest the wisdom of senior staffers while simultaneously encouraging input from younger team members? How do we build relationships across generations?