How can older generations partner with new entrants to the work force?

A group of younger people standing next to each other

Looking at younger millennials entering the work force this is what older millennials, generations X’rs and baby boomers can do to enhance communication, understanding and effectiveness. Why?  To train and retain top quality talent and have better relationships and negotiations.  As a person that focuses on conflict resolution and collaboration I want to share some insights with you that addresses this question.

Sources of Information

There is significant research in this area.  Two notable sources are the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation and Danita Bye’s book Millennials Matter.  To dive deeper I recommend both of these sources.  I am offering you some nutshell comments from both of these sources to help you going forward.

Generations

Not only do baby boomers (52 to 70) and Xr’s (36 to 51) have issues with generational differences with millennials (20 to 35), but older millennials are having issues with younger millennials too.  Fifteen years is a great difference with experiences and technology. Expectations and understandings can be quite different.  Since I focus on conflict resolution and collaboration, I want to share some best practices to help you reduce stress and promote communication and collaboration with the generations. 

 

In 2019 millennials are expected to outnumber baby boomers in the workforce.

Millennials

True that compared to previous generations there seems to be more of a sense of entitlement, a need for continuous praise, and an expectation to move up in the organization quickly, but at the same time this generation is highly motivated, creative and fast thinking.  These younger millennials expect a worker focused employer (an employer that actively looks for ways give employees what they need and want), that is open to what is going on in the business and is collaborative in nature. Think about the ramifications.

So, what should you do?

Relate to them

Ask them what is important to them. Rather than money as with prior generations (money is still important), interests may be for more time off, more positive reinforcement and working as a team. Instead of “we are going to being changing our process” which implies change coming down from the top and immediately raises red flags to this generation.  The news may still be coming from on high, however determine how best to work together to implement the change. Consider something like this, “We are looking into ways to improve our current process and I want to work with you to further improve our overall quality and production. With this new process we will learn from each other.” Which phraseology do you think would be received better? Think before you speak, and pay attention to your mission, vision and values. Do you really live them and carry them out with what you do?

This can apply to any position

If you are a roofer, do you put roofs on homes?  Yes, but you do a lot more than that. You make homes secure, keeping customers dry, warm and worry free.  You make a real difference in people’s lives.  Share what you are doing to make this world a better place. You are really making a difference in the lives of families and they appreciate your quality efforts.

Take time to relate to them and find out what matters. Once you do, take actions that demonstrate that you are listening and that you care. Walk the walk. You can’t fake it. You have to live it.

Increase Openness

No matter what the issue whether good or bad, share what you can and encourage their ideas on how you proceed going forward.  Be transparent and ask for help. Open yourself up to them and help them to be part of the team. It is not about diversity, it is about inclusion.

Here are steps to take

What steps are you taking to include them at work and outside of work? Explain why with various decisions, and be open to constructive improvement with their ideas. Know that you don’t have all the answers. Encourage them to share what they think too.  Praise their thoughts and ideas and give them real consideration. Consider creative techniques such as brainstorming ideas to problems and multi voting on ideas to demonstrate inclusion. Show that everyone matters.

Collaboration

Collaboration is the key.  Working together on tough problems has been proven time and time again to instill a sense of community, belonging and team work.  This generation wants to work together collaboratively. This was emphasized in their entire educational career.  If they enter a work force and they are told to just do their work, you are setting them and your team up for failure.  This is not received well. You may find greater turn over and less employee satisfaction. Look for ways to partner, share and help each other. 

Use their technological knowledge

This generation knows how to use many technological improvements. They are more technically attuned.  Generally, older generations have better soft skills (critical skills) in the behavioral area.  By partnering, mentoring and sharing with each other in a collaborative way, it is possible to enhance both party’s’ skill sets and create a more positive environment.  This will result in better relationships and understanding. Take advantage of The Collaboration Effect TM and enhance relationships, resources and revenues while positively impacting customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and the bottom line.

Millennials Matter book

Danita Bye offers great insights in her book and in the end encourages everyone to inspire investment in others by sharing the wealth, finding the strengths in others and know that love is the ultimate measure. When we approach others positively and inclusively, it is possible to enhance trust which will go a long way in any relationship or negotiation.

Look for ways to relate generationally

Keep in mind that looking for ways to relate to one another regularly (think of the baby boomer that joins a fantasy football league to relate to the millennial generation), increases openness and transparency.  Partner in creative ways even on the hard problems. You will be surprised at how beneficial this can really be.

Mike Gregory is an international speaker focusing on taking advantage of The Collaboration Effect TM. Mike has written 11 books including The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. Mike may be contacted directly at mike@collabeffect.com and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]