Baby Boomers and Millennials have been known to engage in somewhat of an oil/water relationship. With each side holding reservations about the other, a wall has been constructed. But, with a Baby Boomer’s experience and expertise combined with a Millennial’s drive and innovation, they can actually make a great team. So, rather than holding a duel at high noon, let’s look at some ways the groups can effectively work together so everyone wins.
Set Clear Goals
Both of these groups work well when they understand the purpose of the project and what role they will play. Each group wants to know how their involvement will impact the outcome. Create diverse teams and make sure goals are realistic for the entire group to meet. Once employees see that their goals are aligned, they are more likely to work together to achieve them.
Let’s face it, Baby Boomers and Millennials typically have different work styles. A Boomer usually sticks to a more rigid schedule while a Millennial seeks more flexibility. Set expectations throughout the project. How many hours are required each week? Is working from home an option? How will the team meet to discuss progress? When each person understands what their responsibilities are and those of their co-workers, the project tends to run smoother.
Encourage Open Communication
Millennials and Baby Boomers have much to learn from one another but that’s only going to happen when they actually talk to each other and, listen in return. Millennials are tech savvy and by thinking outside of the box, often come up with new ways of solving old problems. Boomers know the ropes, understand the company’s image and know what’s been tried and what didn’t work. Together, they can really feed off one another to create ideas no one has thought of before. However, in order for these new bonds to form, pre-conceived notions will need to be dropped and replaced with respect and open minds.
Bring the Groups Together
By arranging for regular social interaction, you can keep the groups connected. Co-workers of the same age groups will often plan events together but they don’t usually include co-workers of another generation. Be proactive by creating team activities, company events or group trainings. Be sure to get to know your employees so you can plan events they will all appreciate. For group trainings, pick a topic that the entire team needs improvement on, not a topic that one group dominates already. For company events, invite employee’s families or significant others to attend. Once co-workers can relate on a more personal level, they will work harder to understand the other person and create a working relationship.
By working together, these teams will learn to value and trust each other. They may just need a little nudge to get there. But, as Baby Boomers aren’t retiring and Millennials are entering the workforce in hordes, it is good to know that we can all benefit from the combination.
Jolene earned a degree in Sociology from Montana State University. She has done extensive research on the family structure, social media and social class. She writes a daily humorous blog that can be enjoyed at www.alljolene.com. Jolene lives in Montana with her husband and two daughters.