Closing the Generational Gap:   Teambuilding that Can Work for Your Team

By: Ricki Sexton

Many offices in today’s world have one thing in common:  Diverse groups of employees.  Here in our office, we have quite the mix of different people that come from different backgrounds.  We have people that live in the country.  We have people that live in the city.  We have people who are from up North, we have Southerners, we have Florida fans, we have FSU fans, and we come from different employment backgrounds with different levels of education.  Whatever we are personally, we all share a great pride that we “ARE” the Partners team, no matter our background. 

But what about the generation gap?  Millennials versus Generation X.. versus Baby Boomers, versus Boomers Part 2.   We all have various different ways we approach communication, as Forbes magazine stated in the following article titled “How to Manage Generational Differences in the Workplace” (Article).  Let’s take a quick look at some key points:

Communication style. Baby boomers were perceived as more “reserved,” while Generations Y and Z (often just called millennials) tend to favor more “collaborative” and “in-person” means of interacting. This is consistent with other studies showing that millennials, overall, relate far better to a coaching style of management than to a more traditional top-down authoritative approach.

IMG_3068Adapting to change. Generations X and Y often view change “as a vehicle for new opportunities,” according to the study, while gen z simply “is accustomed to change and expects it in the workplace.”  Though the study didn’t comment on it, I’d expect boomers to be the most inflexible about change, since many of them saw in the course of their own careers a transition from a relatively stable work environment to one where cost-cutting and frequent reorganizations became the norm rather than the exception.

Technical skills.  No surprise here. The research examined employee-development-related methods, and found, as one would expect, that Boomers and Generation X liked to learn via “traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools,” while millennials preferred “collaborative and technology-centric” vehicles. Exactly what would be expected given the current omnipresent relationship with technology and the value placed on personal coaching.

The key to bringing these different styles together lies in your approach to teambuilding.  We do several different teambuilding activities in our office, both as a group as well as within our individual department teams.  This enables us to be able to build trust in each other, to benefit each other as well as Partners more.  Here are just a few resources I have looked at and found helpful in the past to read up on:

  1. 10 Tips for Better Teamwork Article
  2. 12 Tips for Team Building in The Work Place (read those 12 C’s!) Article
  3. How to Build a Teamwork Culture in your Organization Article

While there can be challenges in working with the different generations, and adapting to each of their different styles of communication, it can be done!  It just takes patience, lots of reading and working together to find your best solutions.  What tips can you share that have worked for your team?



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