An ongoing conversation in management is bridging the gap between millennials and baby boomers in the workplace. In my last blog post, I wrote about hiring millennials, and now that a few months have passed (and hopefully you’ve found a few rock star millennials J), it’s a good time to assess the relationships between them and the more seasoned professionals.
Sometimes a polarization occurs between the two because of premeditated assumptions. Some baby boomers see millennials as impatient, unprofessional and lazy…millennials may see baby boomers as unapproachable or outdated. At the end of the day, age is not a default to success, but execution is. Many millennials are brimming with potential…they just need a little guidance and the right management style, and baby boomers, who have invaluable experience, sometimes may be too proud to seek help from younger professionals and need a little push.
Here are four ways managers can bridge generational gaps in the workplace, and create synergy between the two groups:
1. Encourage movement. Encourage employees to get up, move around the office and talk to co-workers. If employees think grabbing a conference room at various times in the day to brainstorm is taboo, they’ll stay glued to their seats. Since encouraging sometimes isn’t enough, be proactive and schedule impromptu meetings and brainstorm sessions.
2. Motivate teams with common goals and incentives. It’s difficult to bring two employees together that come from different backgrounds and levels of experience…that’s why finding a common motivator is key when trying to bring the two to work successfully together. It may take some extra time, but get creative and dig deeper to find a common incentive or goal that works well for both generations. For instance, if they are working on a project and achieve the set goal, have lunch catered in for them to enjoy together.
3. Schedule Monthly Team Activities. Take initiative and plan activities for the team, whether it’s a philanthropic effort, attending a sporting game, holding a team happy hour, etc. Activities outside of work help staff get to know one another on a personal level and develop meaningful relationships, which can have a positive impact on the team environment and results.
4. Implement reverse mentoring. Pairing younger employees with senior professionals facilitates relationships. Younger staff can ask candid questions regarding successful work tactics, like best practices for time management, maintaining client relationships, etc. Reverse mentoring also helps baby boomers get to know millennials, hopefully eliminating any stereotypes they hold. By pairing up mentors and mentees from different age groups, managers can speed up the process in which each employee learns different skills. For instance, baby boomers can get a one-on-one session on the ever-advancing world of social media, and millennials can gain first-hand knowledge from a seasoned professional within the industry.
Tom Gimbel is the President and CEO of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm based in Chicago. Founded in 1998, LaSalle has served thousands of clients and candidates, placing job seekers in temporary, temporary-to-permanent and permanent positions. LaSalle Network was an Inner City 100 winner in 2011 and 2013. LaSalle Network has also been listed on Inc. Magazine’s 500/5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list for the past eight years, list by Crain’s Chicago Business among the 2014 Best Places to Work, named by Staffing Industry Analysts’ as a top five “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” from 2011 through 2013, and among the “Fastest Growing Staffing Firms” in 2012 and 2013.