Today most American executives want to know how to build a multi-generational team without conflict. Unfortunately, the potential for workplace conflict has never been greater.
The Baby Boomer generation was born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest members of this generation are already 74, but millions of Boomers in their 60s are still working and many can’t afford to retire until they’re 70!
Millennials aka Gen-Y were born between 1980 and 1994. The oldest Millennials are 40! That’s middle-age—gasp! And Gen-Z was born between 1995 and 2012. This means the oldest Gen-Zer is only 25.
“OK Boomer” or Bust
“Never trust anyone over 30.” Jack Weinberg, the clever young activist who coined that phrase in 1964 is now in his 80s! Bet he never had to grapple with the dilemma of how to build a multi-generational team without conflict a day in his life, huh.
Now that Baby Boomers are well into their 60s they’ve refined that snarky slogan a bit: “Never trust anyone under 50.” Not very sage wisdom when you consider that Millennials are the largest demographic in the American workforce—and these are Baby Boomer-babies!
With the addition of Gen-Z, you’re no longer looking at a boxing match between Boomers and Millennials. It’s more like a 3-ring circus in which it’s hard to forecast who the winner will be.
Age is more than a number
No self-respecting Boomer would have gone to a job interview donning neon purple hair. Duh! No self-respecting Millennial questions the reality of climate change. Duh!
And Gen-Zers really don’t want to hear about the good old days when Boomers worked their way up the corporate ladder [after squandering their youth railing against the corporate machine.] And that’s probably for 2 reasons:
- Baby Boomers are now part of the machine!
- And unlike Boomers, Gen-Z youth will be the first generation in American history to have a lower quality of life than their parents or grandparents! That’s hardly a legacy Boomers should be proud of!
Sadly Millennials and Gen-Zers have a lot in common: Unimaginably expensive college tuition and crushing school loan debt. Limited affordable housing. A marginalizing political landscape. Environmental justice. Sexism, racism, and gender-orientation clashes. Oh and let’s not forget COVID-19.
These young people—the Millennials, as well as the Gen-Zers, face a formidable mash-up of issues most Baby Boomers didn’t have to think about in their youth—at least not all at once!
Mixed values lead to mixed signals
GenZers accuse Millennials of complaining about “adulting.” Yep, that’s a word now and it means behaving like a grown-up! Millennials accuse GenZers of being anarchists—they don’t pay taxes yet, so they don’t value [fill in the blank]. And of course, neither group likes the Boomers who aren’t upset about that one bit.
And yet this clash of the titans can’t play out in the office every day without the corporate culture becoming too toxic for any one to survive, much less thrive.
From battleground to common ground
How to build a multi-generational team without conflict? First, identify what each group has in common. Behind every snarky jab is a blind spot of misunderstanding and that kind of ignorance isn’t bliss for either party.
People reject what they don’t understand. DiSC personality profile training can create the common ground you and your staff need to build or maybe even deconstruct your team. Team building is relational which means people must learn to relate to one another. The 4 personality types proscribed by DiSC—Dominant, Influential, Steadfast or Support, and Conscientious—are the building blocks with which you can begin this process.
DiSC can translate why people think, say, and do the things they do. With a Conscientious colleague, what may appear to be stubbornness may actually be fear of the unknown. An Influencer may not be schmoozing; they may earnestly seek to rally the team around a challenging project.
With insight into different personality traits, friendships can grow. A Steadfast Baby Boomer’s reluctance to try new technology could become a teachable moment with a Dominant Millennial. The Boomer and the Millennial can practice the patience and other interpersonal skills they’ll master during their DiSC training sessions.
DiSC personality profile training can open the eyes and minds of your staff—Boomers, Millennials, and GenZers alike. Gradually they may come to understand, accept, and even appreciate each other.