Build relationships across generations

Are you finding that as time goes on, your team is filled with a variety of different people – some who’ve only recently entered the workforce and some who are well-versed in the world of work. Having such a mixture of people in a team is a good thing, but many leaders find balancing the dynamics difficult.

Who is in your team?

The labels, definitions and limitations of each generation varies from source to source, but according to Jeanne C Meister and Karie Wilyerd, the basic breakdown can be considered as follows:

Traditionalists – anyone born before the year 1946

Baby Boomers – anyone born between the years 1947 – 1964

Generation X – anyone born between the years 1965 – 1976

Millennials – anyone born between the years 1977 – 1997

Gen 2020 – anyone born after 1997

Many teams consist of all five generations while others may only have one but it’s important to know how to manage whoever is in your team, regardless of their age.

Why is it so difficult to get along?

If your team is struggling due to generational differences take some comfort in the fact that this is not a new problem for leaders. There can be tension from all sides – older people in the team may feel put out that they need to work with younger, potentially inexperienced workers, while younger people may feel insecure in their abilities and intimidated by the older generation.

Things to avoid

It is important, more than anything, to avoid generational stereotypes. Often, people believe that Baby Boomers aren’t good with technology while Millennials have terrible work ethic but believing these stereotypes only discourages your team and shows them that you don’t believe they have the potential to be different from their peers.

Instead …

Get to know the individual – know what makes each of your team members tick! Even if they seem like a typical example of their generation on the surface, if you dig a little deeper, you will learn about their values, their learning styles and how they work – it may be completely contrary to the stereotypes of their generation.

Facilitate cross-generational mentoring – your job, as a leader, is to help your team learn from each other. Each person has something unique to bring to the team, regardless of their generation and it’s crucial that all your team recognises everyone’s unique value. Once this happens, not only will you have a team that is varied in their experience, values and age, you will have a team who is ready to do what it takes to use their combined knowledge to drive your organisation forward.

If you’re ready to start harnessing the knowledge and experience of your dynamic team, People Make the Difference can help you with training workshops, one-on-one coaching and Coach On Call services. To find out more, call us on 0412 333 415 or visit