Today in the workplace, we may have as many as four (4) different generations (e.g. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and Gen X) on a single team with different values, perspectives, and motivators. How can a manager or leader really inspire and motivate a team which is so diverse? To do so, a manager must understand the generational distinctions as well as the fact that individual team members may have unique needs, goals, or work habits. A good balance between individual, generational, and team goals can help form a bond of success.
To be successful, I would suggest you learn as much as you can about the following four areas:
- Recognize the value of learning about cross-generational teams and what that knowledge and information can do for you as a leader.
- Identify characteristics of cross-generational teams.
- Look for issues that this cross-generational team might face.
- Realize characteristics of an environment that supports cross-generational teams.
So what might be some of the challenges, you might have with a cross-generational team?
- With different attitudes and values from each generation in play, there is a high potential for misunderstanding. Therefore, a leader must recognize this potential challenge and look for multiple ways of communication and create different channels that team members can choose to engage.
- Different perspectives about what is needed in a team and to create teams. Experiences with teams can be diversified based on experiences like hierarchies (Traditionalist/Baby Boomers), equitable approach (buy into outcome, equal voice(Gen Y) and networking/collaborative skills (Gen Y/Millennial).
Certainly a one-size fits all model will not work with a cross-generational team. As a leader you must be willing to understand these challenges, embrace the differences, and look for ways to benefit from the diversity you have on the team.
So what can be the benefits to having a cross-generational team? Here’s 5 Benefits from Cross Generational Teams:
- Ability to innovate given that innovation relies on a number of different and divergent perspectives being brought to bear onto a problem. So a diverse cross-generational team has the potential to come up with more perspectives.
- Being able to view different age segments point of view to help satisfy customer needs
- Improved knowledge sharing since there is a built in mentor structure available to be used if harnessed effectively.
- Breaking down hierarchies and status barriers due to the diverse nature of the team.
- Better solutions in the long run as long as they are able to listen due to the diverse views.
No matter what the challenges or benefits of a cross-generational team, there still is some common ground that no matter what generation you belong to, you want as a team member. These common goals include:
- Desire for Respect
- Need for Credible Leaders
- Resistance to Change
- Desire to Learn
As you can see, creating a highly functional cross-generational team takes a lot of time and energy but can reap big rewards in the end if done right. Being aware of each individual’s values, goals, and strengths can be critical to your success. Therefore, take the time to get to know and respect your team members. Build that loyalty and recognize their desire to learn and grow no matter which generation they belong to.
I like to think that a very diverse team can bring highly innovative solutions so the extra time and effort can reap great rewards.
Check out this video on cross-generational teams to learn more and recognize the beauty of a cross-generational team. http://vimeo.com/channels/169638/52641454