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Getting along with multigenerational coworkers


Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote over at the Huffington Post:

So you work in a cube next to someone of a different generation and they do something that makes no sense to you. Maybe they…

  • Wear ear buds all day and can’t hear anything anyone says so they don’t know what’s going on.
  • Talk over their cube all the time so you have to wear ear buds to concentrate.
  • Don’t make eye contact because they are looking at their phone while talking to you.
  • Don’t know how to use the collaboration software and try to send everything by email.
  • Come in ten minutes late carrying a Starbucks.

You’ve hit a generational sticking point: Those predictable places where the four generations in the workplace see things differently. Complaining about those differences creates tension and frustration and leads to miscommunication and stereotyping. Team members of the same generation make jokes to one another about the ‘offending’ generation, such as ‘those entitled Millennials‘ or ‘those arrogant Baby Boomers.’ Even worse, each attempts to manipulate and maneuver other generations into seeing the sticking point their way. Resentments build, people spend more time talking about someone than talking to them, and new ideas stop flowing. Productivity is stunted and results decrease and work isn’t as fun. When we don’t honestly explore and understand generational differences, we react to the small things, ignore the big things, and propose the wrong things.

Although sticking points are inevitable, the same generational conflicts that get teams stuck can cause teams to stick together because they push us to understand and appreciate how other generations see the world. After consulting with hundreds of Fortune 100 and 500 organizations and working with thousands of people in my work with Franklin Covey, I’ve noticed that generational stereotypes do the most damage because they freeze our thinking and destroy our intergenerational relationships.

Here are four steps that will help you get along better with your multigenerational coworkers, protect you from stereotyping, keep you from staying stuck in generational sticking points, and most important, maintain your sanity….

Read entire article here.

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