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Tool #1: Each One Teach One
Folks are much more willing to learn something if they also get to teach – it is an explicit demonstration of their value and expertise. At every level of the organizational chart, and with any major difference, have each generation teach the other their particular skill-set/strength that is missing for the other.
Example 1: Boomers might be lagging in the latest technology field while M’s particularly have not learned the more traditional modes of communication such as writing in long-hand and formal etiquette that to Boomers is second nature. Each can mentor the other for great outcomes on both ends
Example 2: Boomers know what Boomer customers want…Gen X'ers & Millennials know what they’re cohort responds to. So design service/sales trainings with each generation teaching the other what they’ll need to know to be successful with the opposite group, for practice, feed-back, and help with follow-up refining as needed
Tool #2: One For You, Two For Me
This is a “built for a ‘what’s in it for me’ type” compromise technique…Each side of the generation gap gives the other one important thing the other wants, in return getting two of the things they want. As you can see, if done back and forth just once it’s now “even” – but all get the most important things to them and everyone wins
Tool #3: Flexing for Dollars:
This is based on the simple but well-known “exceptional leadership” practice of looking at whether goals are being met instead of how an individual staff-person goes about meeting them. If I seem to always have a messy desk (in your opinion) but I outsell everyone else in my group, then that approach is clearly not causing a problem and what works for me!
Examples of the generational differences in types of flexibility;
Gen X'ers flex around in and out of office time such as telecommuting & 4 day weeks (work/life balance)
Millennials flex around productivity rewards, which might include the ability to try new thing in the office to ward off their perennial "job-hopping" ways (eg inter-office vs. to another company)
Tool #4: Walk a moment in my shoes
Getting each generation beyond their preferred modus operandi so they can see the immense value the other brings to the company table is the key here.
Do this by scheduling a “Talkin’ ‘bout My Generation” kind of event, one that’s fun but with serious intent.
- Be very clear about the benefits of working for the company – you would want the same information from your boss…
- Have a vision and keep it in front of your staff – like you, younger workers need this to be inspired...
- What you focus on is what you get - if you focus on the negatives, you'll foster them; focus on the positives and you'll get a whole lot more of them!
Finally, the responsibility for getting cross-generational crankiness in check lies with all three groups, not one moreso than the other, to the contrary of some well publicized news reports on this issue insinuating that the primary burden for change falls on the Boomer bosses….not so, although as leaders we must take the first steps and then model the best-practice approaches for conflict resolution.
As one of our songs puts it so well: “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…” It’s important to get away from whose approach is “right” and move to what works best for who to get the best outcome, period.
You have been officially alerted.