Preventing Disastrous Generational Conflict in the Workplace

Young businessman being confronted by his angry female boss. Isolated on white.

With multiple generations in the workplace, each with its own values, work styles and communication preferences, it is no wonder generational conflict can undermine the ability of employees to work together effectively. Unresolved generational conflict can lead to problems such as unproductive teams, accusations of age bias and high turnover.

Generational conflict can be prevented by:

  1. Maximizing the strengths each generation brings to the workplace. Gen X’ers often excel at helping to create increased efficiency. Baby Boomers vast work experience can be leveraged to mentor younger workers and document best practices. Millennials can use their innovative technological savvy to discover new ways your organization can better use social media.
  2. Helping managers understand the need for generation-specific communication strategies. A Gen X manager who does not take the time to develop a trusting relationship with Boomer employees may run the risk of alienating these employees. A Boomer manager may lose high potential younger employees without an understanding of the need for frequent positive feedback.
  3. Giving the message to your workforce that differences are neither good nor bad. People tend to make value judgments when they encounter behavior that is different than they are accustom. Employees need to learn to delay the knee jerk reaction to make negative judgments about others or take another person’s behavior personally when they encounter employees with work styles and values that are different than their own.

Preventing generational conflict is not easy. But we can create a more harmonious multigenerational workforce with raised awareness of our own and others behavior, combined with specific strategies for creating a workplace that values the work styles of all of the generations.

Alisa Blum, President of Alisa Blum & Associates, specializes in optimizing the multigenerational workforce. Come to our June 8th event and learn strategies for retaining Millennials.