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Employees

Working in a Multi-generational Workforce

Introduction

Organisations today are facing a new future in terms of demographics at work: we will soon have five generations working alongside one another, ranging from the age of 18 to almost 70.

As you enter today’s workforce, you may find yourself working alongside a fresh graduate on the same project, or being mentored by someone younger than you.

Here are some ways you can adjust and adapt to this changing work landscape:

#1
Be open-minded

In a multi-generational workforce, there is potential for negative stereotyping. For example, older workers may perceive millennials as entitled or too eager to challenge norms, whereas millennial employees could view older workers as being set in their ways. Each generation may have different work ethics and values but it is important not to restrict them to their stereotypes. Instead, get to know them better.

#2
Leverage strengths and capabilities

When working in a multi-generational workforce, it is important to find ways in which you can complement each other’s strengths. A fresh graduate might be more tech savvy, while you might be more experienced with operations processes. Take this opportunity to not only learn from them, but to impart your knowledge as well.

Consider various types of work that will enable you to showcase your competencies and experience. A successful multi-generational team identifies, values and builds on one another’s skills and experiences.

Working for Younger Managers

Perhaps you have just taken on a new job or returned back to the workforce after a career break, and now your boss is younger than you. How do you put aside the “age” issue and focus on performing on your job?

Below are some pointers you can adopt when working under a younger superior:

Seek Advice
Seek Advice

Understandably, having a much younger boss can be an emotional situation. Try speaking to friends or colleagues who have been through a similar situation, and can offer helpful support and advice on how to manage such emotions.

Communicate frequently
Communicate frequently

You can regularly ask for feedback and suggestions to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Many a times, tension arises from miscommunication, which can be avoided by simply getting your point across in a respectful yet straightforward manner.

Be empathetic and understanding
Be empathetic and understanding

It will also help to be empathetic towards your younger boss. He or she may feel uncomfortable or even insecure about managing you, because of your level of experience. Keeping an open mind and displaying mutual respect while working with them is essential in maintaining harmony.

At the end of the day, working towards cultivating a strong rapport with your younger boss is not any different from creating a solid relationship with a boss who is older. Your goal should be to work with this individual as a peer, to create success for the team and organisation.