Navigating the Perfect Storm: Every Generation Blames the One Before

As the divide between younger and older generations grows, good line managers will need to find a way to make sure all generations are working well together.

By BRIDGE

Perfect Storm: Each generation brings fresh ideas. While it can feel uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with challenging the status quo.
In my last post, I spoke about the importance of creating resilient managers. But to build a truly resilient organisation, you need to be drawing on the strengths of the diversity in your workforce.

A recent LinkedIn article stated that Gen Z workers are ‘baffling’ their older colleagues by rewriting workplace norms. But this isn’t a new narrative. As Mike + The Mechanics says,

Every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations come beating on your door.

Each generation brings fresh ideas. While it can feel uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with challenging the status quo. If new generations weren’t bringing fresh ideas, we would never innovate. But this brings an additional challenge for line managers.

As the divide between younger and older generations grows, good line managers will need to find a way to make sure all generations are working well together and drawing from all of their strengths to build a resilient organisation.

Bridging the Gap

It’s human nature to feel connected to people who are similar to you. This means that in many organisations you will see workers of the same generation group together. But if generations aren’t mixing, and don’t share a common goal, they are less likely to feel connected enough to challenge each other in a way that gets the most out of their individual experiences.

I’ve spoken a lot about purpose in my past blog posts. I really think getting everyone aligned around a common purpose is the most effective way to bridge any divides in your organization. So firstly, and most importantly in my opinion, make sure each team in your organisation knows how they contribute to your company’s purpose. If you want more detailed information on creating a great company purpose, read my previous blog.

Secondly, encourage social interaction between generational groups. You can even organise a social event with activities that will encourage employees to mix beyond their normal social groups. But this is definitely not a one size fits all solution and will need to be tailored to team dynamics and personalities. This is where line managers come in. Make sure your line managers take the time to get to know each individual in their team and they will know the best way to create a strong team ethos that bridges generational differences.

Create a Culture of Respect and Innovation

So, the first step is to get your people to find connections through their similarities, rather than be divided by their differences. The next step is to create a psychologically safe environment where employees are able to see their differences as strengths and challenge each other to innovate.

This means creating an open-minded culture where all opinions are valued. People are more likely to accept the input from others if they feel that their own knowledge and contributions are respected. A practical step you can take to create this culture is to set up brainstorms that surface creative solutions to improving team performance. You can set out the ground rules before you begin. This means taking into account how people would like to contribute their ideas. For example, not everyone might be confident to speak up in a group setting, so ensure people can contribute in ways they feel comfortable. This also applies to how employees can connect with their line managers if needed. 

You can even introduce two-way mentoring programs where generations are able to support each other through their unique experiences. 

As long as your employees share a common purpose and feel respected and appreciated, your organisation will build resilience from the diversity of thought that a multi-generational workforce can bring. Do you have any other ideas on how to bridge the generational gap in the workplace? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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