8 Ideas for Overcoming a Generational Divide in Your Office

 YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council) surveyed some folks about how they deal with generational divide. Here are their responses.

How do you try to overcome a generational divide in your workplace?

1. Highlight Strengths and Similarities, Rather Than Differences

Our crew consists of those ranging in age from 18 to 45. We have been very fortunate to never have an issue due to this diversity. Our younger employees benefit from the advanced skill and wisdom from our older team members, while they in turn are energized and inspired by the dedication and zeal our younger members showcase. We focus on what they can learn from each other rather than what sets them apart.
– Christof Chartier, C.M. Chartier Contracting

2. Acknowledge the Divide as an Elephant in the Room

State it. Make it clear. Face it. Simply point out the divide, and remind workers of how any interpersonal conflict can stifle productivity. Remind the team that each generation has its own strengths and weaknesses, and that each individual is not determined by their generation. With time, your team should easily be able to recognize the benefits of overcoming the generational divide.
– Andrew Namminga, Andesign

3. Create a Strong Culture

There’s a lot of talk about working with Millennials. The generational divide can be an issue, as can other backgrounds and ways of looking at the world. Setting a clear, transparent company culture, with responsibilities and expectations helps overcome differences in approach. At the end of the day, founders and managers need to be comfortable with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy!
– Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

4. Respect Experience

As a young owner with older managers, I have found that their experience is the most valuable asset I have. I give them the respect they deserve and take their advice often. One in particular has been in the business longer than I have been alive. I use everything they know to my advantage and love hearing from them before I make decisions — especially ones that affect them.
– Megan Peterson, LaborExchange LLC

5. Schedule Team Outings

Find an activity or environment that both older and younger workers would enjoy, and bring the entire team together to experience it. Employees of all ages will feel more relaxed outside of the office and will be in a position where they will feel more comfortable to talk to each other. These kinds of authentic connections will show staff that they have more in common than they thought!
– Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

6. Be a Family

Treat each person in your business the same: regardless of their age, they are an asset to the team. Do not have a lopsided environment to the point where it favors one demographic, and be sure to cater to everyone’s needs.
– Marc Devisse, Tri-Town Construction

7. Offer Intergenerational Mentoring

Overcome generational divides through mentorship programs that show employees from each generation how much they have to learn from each other. Boomers can teach fundamentals of teamwork and building relationships in person, while Gen X team members can mentor others on strategically reassessing business problems to create value and revenue. Millennials are great for training others on technology and social media.
– Jared Brown, Hubstaff

8. Speak to What Drives Individual Team Members

Everyone has their own drives and motivators:  understanding those differences is critical to integrating the workplace. An older employee may find happiness passing down knowledge through mentoring relationships, while a younger employee may benefit from occasional public praise. Try different techniques, and see what works for individuals.
– Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals


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Young Entrepreneur Council

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective (http://businesscollective.com), a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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