13 Strategies for Integrating an Intergenerational Business Team

13 Strategies for Integrating an Intergenerational Business Team

With the current workforce now comprised of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and increasingly Generation Z, these different generations all bring different perspectives on how the day-to-day operations of a business work. This can create an environment of miscommunication and misunderstanding that adversely affects a business’s ability to retain employees and properly serve its customers.

When these challenges arise, it’s critical that leaders, regardless of their age, generation, or experience level, develop an action plan to connect and build strong relationships with employees. To help, 13 Newsweek Expert Forum members offer tips to help business leaders bring together the different generations in their workforce for the benefit of the entire organization.

1. Cultivate a culture of curiosity

In a dynamic workplace, leaders must cultivate a culture of curiosity. Guide team members to approach operations with an open mind. Encouraging questions, seeking understanding, and inviting diverse perspectives are key. This proactive approach not only enriches collective understanding, but also avoids unnecessary judgments and fosters a healthier, more inclusive company culture. – Leah Marone, Corporate Health Consultant

2. Establish processes and expectations

Create processes and set expectations. People will always have different expectations, but a common understanding is necessary for an organization to function properly. Describe how the organization operates. For example, are urgent matters handled by email, chat, text or phone call? Reduce misunderstandings with clear expectations, communication and prior alignment. – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

3. Encourage open dialogue and active listening

Navigating between different generational perspectives in the workforce is critical. Encourage employees to use open dialogue and active listening to understand the preferences and strengths of each generation. Foster a collaborative environment where each generation’s ideas are valued. This will develop teamwork and a sense of belonging among all members. – Adi Segal, Hapi

4. Emphasize empathy

There will always be disagreements between generations about how things should be done. Always has been and always will be. We just have to accept it as a fact. Boomers had to explain to their parents what rock ‘n’ roll was, just as they had to explain what the Gen Z Metaverse was for. The same goes for management styles. Empathy will be the glue that makes it all work together. – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures

5. Leverage Employees’ Common Interests

Explore common interests among employees to create a culture of collaboration. Foster this culture by identifying cross-functional project teams that combine age, experience, and roles. This will provide unique opportunities for employees to get to know each other, share perspectives, and connect and interact in new ways. – Steve Smith, Zayo

6. Focus on Individual Strengths and Experiences

To connect different generations in the workplace, leaders must focus on individual strengths and experiences rather than generational stereotypes. I suggest leaders consider adopting Wharton professor Mauro Guillén’s concept of a multigenerational mindset, which emphasizes intergenerational collaboration based on shared skills and knowledge rather than age. – Joseph Soares, IBPROM Corp.

7. Communicate the Value of Different Perspectives

Bringing different generations together on your team gives you access to a variety of valuable perspectives. Accept this and encourage people to value each other’s different perspectives. This promotes inclusivity, but also has unique outcomes – which you can reinforce through mentoring programs to ensure that experiences are transferred both downward and upward. – Gergo Vari, Lensa

8. Build intergenerational mentorships

Promote intergenerational mentoring programs. This approach helps bridge generational gaps, leverages diverse strengths, and creates a collaborative team culture where every member feels valued and heard. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

9. Create a Culture of Open Communication

Intergenerational teams can create a wealth of resources and ideas. By creating a company culture that focuses more on open communication and less on encouraging one right answer, leaders can provide an outlet for new and different perspectives. This outlet will allow team members to share and compare innovative ideas. – Consult Donna Marie Cozine, DMC

10. Create alignment around Problems and Solutions

Align the team around the problem to solve it. A shared sense of purpose spans age, stage, team and tenure and focuses on building solutions, launching pilots and progressing where relevant. – Karen Mangia, Engineering Innovation Group

11. Encourage Collaboration and Strong Relationships

Enable employees to collaborate and build strong relationships and lead by example with others, especially in areas where they may have weaknesses. As an older business owner, I believe it is important to work with younger generations with more modern knowledge and skills. By doing this, you can create a strong team that combines the experience of both generations and fills gaps in knowledge or experience. – Tammy Sons, Tn Nursery

12. Implement a Reverse Mentoring Program

Leaders may consider implementing cross-generational mentoring programs. Pair younger workers with older workers, each teaching the other generational perspectives or job-related aspects they are good at. It is an approach that promotes mutual respect and intergenerational learning, effectively bridging gaps in understanding of different operating methods. – Dr. Kira Graves, Kira Graves Consulting

13. Keep an open mind

The best way to grow is to keep an open mind. Encourage your employees to look for others in what they don’t know versus what they do know. Leaders should do the same. You may be surprised to learn that what you thought was a given reality has another compelling perspective when seen through the eyes of others with different generational experiences. Be open and receptive to alternative ideas. – Margie Kiesel, Isidore Partners