Generational differences are real and can result in real tension on your team. While everyone may have the same goal in mind, growing up in vastly different times means team members will come up with different approaches to the same problems. Let’s take a look at some of the tips you can use to reduce tensions and successfully lead across generations:
- Avoid pigeonholing. The majority of differences among employees are not driven by generation, but by their unique personalities. Get to know each team member as an individual instead of simply focusing on the year they were born. As a leader you can focus on their individual needs, rather than generational stereotypes.
- Examine your style vs their expectations. If you feel resistance from an employee who is much older or much younger than you, it’s possible they have legitimate concerns because your style is different from how they expect things to be done. Address these differences head-on, and help your team understand the reason you lead the way you do.
- Tap into your empathy. Sometimes resistance isn’t about your leadership style. An older employee might be reacting to the youth of their peers because it reminds them they have been passed on their career track. A younger employee might be responding to the perception of the organization as being slow and rigid. Be empathetic to how difficult this can be, and work with your team to handle the emotional backlash.
One thing you can count on is that, regardless of age, everyone wants to be valued. Start by engaging each person in a conversation that demonstrates you are interested in their thoughts. When most people know their voices are being heard, they will help build the bridge that crosses any divide.
“We all require and want respect.” – Aretha Franklin