Baby boomers, Generation X and millenials have different interests, goals and beliefs that can cause interoffice conflicts. Using your skills as a social butterfly to help bridge the gap between your coworkers and build stronger teams can get you noticed and boost your career. Get everyone together for some structured social time to help ease tensions and improve teamwork.
Baby boomers refer to the millions of children born starting at the end of World War II in 1946 and 1965. Their children, known as Generation X, were born between 1966 and 1980. Millenials were born between 1981 and 2000, referred to as the start of the New Millennium. You might find a few members of the Greatest Generation, born before 1946, winding down their careers or still leading businesses they helped build or now run, but they make up an ever-decreasing small slice of the pie.
One way to help build strong inter-generational teams is to help each group learn about the other. Have your co-workers get together by generation and ask each one to pick a movie they feel represents their group. Baby boomers might pick “The Graduate” or “Rebel Without a Cause.” Generation X might choose “The Breakfast Club” or “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Millenials might screen “The Social Network.” Order in lunch one day a week and have your staff watch a movie, holding a discussion afterwards. The Q&A sessions will educate the generations about each other, clear up misunderstandings and create more interest and respect among groups. Don’t think of this activity as social time -- it’s team building, so put your phones on do-not-disturb mode.
If your co-workers tend to work in different areas of the company that correlate by age, have each group give a presentation on what their department or function does. Have them discuss why they think it’s important, how they think it affects your customers, how they support other departments and what they need from their co-workers. Have each group discuss their personal career goals -- each generation might be surprised how the others view office policies, benefits and flex time.
Different generations had different work skills emphasized during their school years. Consider having each group teach the others a career skill during prepared seminars. Baby boomers might give millenials who grew up writing primarily emails and texts a letter/report/proposal writing workshop. Generation X might give a marketing presentation. Millenials can share tips for more effective computer use.
Have another lunch social activity playing trivia games that mix questions from all three generations. After scores are tallied, have each generation discuss the questions that applied to them and how the information relates their group. You might ask questions about music, creating discussions about how certain movements such as folk, grunge and hip hop evolved and what they meant to teens of those eras. Ask questions about social icons in sports, politics, music, medicine or technology to learn how they affected the every day person. Look in game stores or online for trivia games that ask multigenerational questions.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.