January 29, 2014 \ Rachel Jellinek
Multi-Generational Teams in the Workplace

January 29, 2014

I recently attended two presentations on the differences among various generations and the implications of having multi-generational teams in the workplace.  The first event sponsored by Welsh Consulting featured Kari Heistad, Founder and CEO of Culture Coach International.  The second speaker, invited by The Friday Forum was Frances Kunreuther, Director of the Building Movement Project.

Interestingly, both speakers started off by asking members of the audience to reflect upon: a) how they perceive their own generation; and b) how they perceive other generations.  This was the rough breakdown of the generations that were used:

Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964

Gen X: Born 1965 – 1979

Gen Y/Millenials: Born 1980 – 1999

Gen Z/Post-Millenials: Born 2000 – Present

Aside from providing some good laughs, the exercise pointed out how many assumptions we make about one another, related to work ethic, comfort (or lack thereof) with technology, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, etc.

Perhaps one of the most meaningful takeaways for me was a discussion regarding the importance of providing recognition, support and trust.  Not only is it crucial to be sincere and detailed in the feedback that you provide, but it is also important to learn from members of your team what motivates them and how they feel that they can best make a contribution, based upon their learning style, skill set and communication style. 

Being thoughtful about how to answer these questions will not only serve to strengthen your immediate team but your organization as a whole:

  • What are the benchmarks that are being used to measure performance?
  • What are the positive and negative consequences of doing your job well or not?
  • Where is there room for improvement?
  • What are some growth opportunities within the organization? 
  • What skill-building opportunities are there outside of the organization? 
  • Is peer mentoring available?  Is multi-generational mentoring available?
  • How is each member of your team going to feel valued and tapped for what they know?