How to Communicate a Team With a Big Generation Gap
The Introduction of new technologies and the possibility of managing cross-continental remote teams in one working day has led to an increasingly diverse environment in most workplaces - whether virtual or physical ones. But besides their nationality, race, and gender, employees can also be divided by their age.
Generational diversity challenge is not a commonly recognized problem but is still quite common in large and middle-sized companies. With Millennials stepping into the professional "game" at the beginning of the century, this common issue became even more challenging.
For instance, some of the most renowned tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google were founded in 1976, 1998, and 1994, respectively. This means that even big hip companies probably have a number of employees well over 50. And yet, nowadays, they mostly appeal to newly graduated 20-somethings.
So, how do members of different age groups usually behave in the professional environment? And, more importantly, how to approach each of them?
First, recognize the age group for every individual on your team. Then, try to understand their needs.
Here - we'll give you a hand:
The Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) basically formed the modern-age corporate culture as we now know it. Also, this means they were the first witnesses to all the changes and let-downs made in their professional world. They are usually competitive and loyal to strict 9 to 5 rules. They value hard work and prefer traditional working methods. Yet, in this day and age, although they have a ton of experience, they still have a lot to learn (particularly when it comes to digital management and communication). And this challenge is not so appealing to many.
Generation X refers to those born between the mid-'60s and mid-'80s, which means that there is a solid chance you are a member of this generational group - or some of your closest friends are. Therefore, you probably know how it goes... Although not as tech-savvy as Millennials, Gen X-ers are comfortable with online communication and keeping it up with new tools and apps (some more than others, of course). Members of this generation usually work the longest hours, but still, strive for more freedom and flexibility than the Baby Boomers. With the economy collapsing several times over the course of their careers, they are usually more cynical and independent than others. Also, the younger members of this generation are mostly young parents, so keep that in mind.
Finally, there are Millennials (born in the late '80s and so on), who probably don't even remember life before the internet. Beside their inbred tech adaptability, their main quality is their readiness to soak up new information day after day. They also love keeping it fun while working, which means that they are mostly informal, optimistic and team-oriented (unfortunately, most elders still see them as entitled and self-absorbed). As the remarkable Birkman research shows, Millennials present one-third of today's US workforce, as they have overpassed the number of working Baby Boomers in 2015. The very same research shows that the Millennials are the most racially diverse generation with almost 44% of them belonging to a racial minority.
As you can see, we are dealing with very distinctive age groups, with members of all three of them often joining up in a mixed team of professionals in a workplace. When interacting with one another, both face-to-face and virtually, many of them face different challenges that can result in various types of conflicts.
These are the usual sources of conflict between these generations:
- The way they judge work,
- The way they communicate,
- Their digital efficiency,
- Their cultural values and preferences.
Since the internal communication is our main area of interest at BlogIn, we will now focus on source #2: The internal communication.
Finding the proper internal communication channel that will fill the age gap between all three generations is the only way to beat this challenge. And it is up to team managers to improve the quality of their shared professional experience.
Of course, when communicating with a variety of individuals, every now and then things will get chaotic to the degree that can only be rectified via honest face-to-face conversation. Yet, when it comes to the small everyday communication challenges, they can be efficiently resolved by using a simple centralized internal communication platform. Here is why you should consider using one:
- A simple, centralized internal communication tool, such as internal company blog, let you keep all digital interaction between your teammates organized, categorized and easy searchable under one roof.
- A modern, simple-to-use inter-communication app such as Slack or BlogIn should be easy to handle for all employees. BlogIn, a simple internal blog tool, is more suitable for long-form content, while Slack shines best as a chat app for teams. You can even integrate BlogIn and Slack to enable optimal information flow between the two platforms and get the best internal communication experience for your team.
- Desktop and email notifications keep all employees informed and up-to-date with new and relevant content posted on the platform, making it easy for them to stay in the loop and consume the information at their own pace.
- You can even motivate employees to boost their potential by assigning different roles within the app (like Editor or Writer). Then try giving them a bit more unusual tasks, such as writing a short manual, work-related news, meeting minutes, or a review.
- Being able to easily respond, comment or reply to other teammates writings boosts collaboration and the engagement within the team.
- Also, not everybody is always invited or able to attend all the important meetings, which is exactly why this way of knowledge sharing is beneficial to building a healthy and efficient work environment - no matter how diverse your team is.
- Keep in mind that most modern apps are built to motivate you to use them frequently, and even become addicted to them. So, don't fear the game and let your teammates naturally learn the benefits of such a tool.
We shall end this report with a quote from the above-mentioned Birkman research team that says:
"Organizations that understand how to address generational conflicts successfully and leverage each generation’s strengths will be better able to keep employees motivated and productive."
To read more about internal communication strategies that will help you overcome various diversity challenges within one professional team, please click here.