This is part 2 in the series of posts on workplace evolution.
I may be a Millenial, but I’m not too young to remember The A-Team. The best thing about the A-Team was that each member was so different and brought a unique talent. There was no B-squad; they could do it all. As Gen Xers move into positions of management, they need to create their own teams, X-Teams, to capture the unique talents of each generation.
Gen Xers are not inherently team players. However, they are moving into management roles and will need some guidance from the Baby Boomers who are slowly retiring. Gen Xers will benefit from working on teams with Baby Boomers and learning the skills they need to be strong leaders.
And how will Gen Xers manage once they get to the top? The Baby Boomers aren’t going anywhere too fast and Millenials are quickly becoming the largest population in the workforce, 75% by 2025 according to a study done by The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation. So, Gen Xers need to find ways to keep the experience of the Baby Boomers while attracting, motivating and keeping Millenials.
In his book “Human Factors in Project Management: Concepts, Tools and Techniques for Inspiring Teamwork and Motivation” Zachary Wong points out that Baby Boomers lived through and participated in a number of social movements, (civil rights, women’s rights), so they believe in the power of teamwork to drive progress.
More than just a team mentality, Baby Boomers have years of experience you don’t want to lose when they retire. Put them in a position to teach Gen Xers and Millenials by teaming them up and letting them all learn from each other. By putting them in teams, Baby Boomers will continue to feel valuable to the organization as well as filling mentee roles that will benefit Gen Xers and Millenials.
Although they may be the youngest members of the workforce, Millenials do not want to be on the B-Squad. Millenials want to be included; they want to feel valued for their input and they want to feel like what they say is taken seriously. Millenials are team players by design and actually more productive working in teams. The Millenials were practically born on teams. By five they were playing organized sports. By adolescence they were doing team learning projects in school.
Millenials are eager to take advice from older generations. They crave feedback; their parents hovered over them. They are looking for mentors now in the workplace. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have a lot to offer Millenials, and Millenials are eager to listen.
Before the A-Team could be a productive crime fighting unit; they had to break out of prison for a crime they didn’t commit. We too will have to break out, tear down some walls and create collaborative environments for your X-Teams.
Remember your first cube? If you’re like me, it filled you with a sense of dread. Well, the walls are coming down! A more open workspace will foster creativity, productivity, distancing itself from the old cube farm format. To create a more collaborative, creative, hence productive workspace, consider small conference tables and open spaces. Places like The Nerdery have already tried this and seen unexpected and positive results.
With multi-generational teams, there are bound to be some generational clashes. Have you ever noticed that each generation views the next one as lazy? No generation is raising lazy kids or we wouldn’t be where we are today. What is interpreted as laziness is a misunderstanding of different work styles. As you build your X-Teams it’s important to recognize what the generational differences are and encourage respect and understanding of those differences.
X-Teams will harness the best of what each generation has to offer. You are likely to have some setbacks, cliffhangers, but as the team works together to complete complicated missions, everyone will benefit.
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