Multigenerational Teams Can Benefit Everyone

Not a millennial? Feeling a little out of sync with the younger generation as you work on projects and in teams? Here’s a secret — they’re a lot more like you than you might expect.

For example, millennials want to be part of a team.

“Millennials value teams because it enables the work and their goals, but also because of the social interactions it provides,” says CCL’s Jennifer Deal. “Working on teams — with people they trust and care about — is how millennials feel connected to the organization.”

Sound familiar?

Creating a team dynamic that works for everyone is essential — and it can be done. Try these tactics, adapted from Deal’s research-driven book, What Millennials Want from Work, co-authored by Alec Levenson.

5 Tactics for Working With Cross-Generational Teams

Infographic: 5 tactics for cross-generational teams

1. Rethink the boring stuff.

Millennials often think they should be exempt from boring work. You may remember paying your dues earlier in your career and have no sympathy. But what if, working together, you could come up with alternatives to anyone having to do the repetitive work, or at least find ways to reduce it considerably? Millennials may have ideas or technology options that haven’t been explored, and you have the knowledge and expertise to figure out how to make new processes work.

2. Flex the hours.

Millennials are willing to work long hours, but they want to have a life outside of work. Same as you. Teams that feel overburdened can work together to find a solution so everyone isn’t working all the time. Perhaps one team member would be happy to come in early, while another wants to stay late. Or, you could balance out off-hours coverage so not everyone has to be responsive 24/7.

3. Help them learn, but don’t be a parent.

Millennials don’t want you to act as a parent. They have their own parents to worry about. What they would appreciate, however, is a helpful mentor who can provide feedback on how they’re doing and how to be more organizationally savvy. Millennials realize you have knowledge that can’t be learned in school, and they appreciate it when it’s shared. They won’t necessarily act as you’d like them to, but they do appreciate your wisdom.

4. Give good reasons.

Being told that a task needs to be done a particular way just because it’s “how things are done” will open the door to millennial push-back. Try saying something like, “You might want to try it this way because I’ve found it saves me a lot of time and effort in the long run, but of course it’s your choice,” versus “You should do it this way because this is the way it’s been done for a long time and it works well enough.”

5. Learn from each other.

Millennials want to learn new things, which means they’re likely to want to learn about what you’re doing and help you with it. Help millennials understand what they don’t know and provide them opportunities to learn from you. Hopefully, you’ll also find some areas where you can learn from them — they have considerable knowledge, too.

Learn more in Jennifer Deal’s book about what millennials want in the workplace.

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