In my experience, I believe there are four major factors that contribute to individual success at work:  First is having the Expertise to do your job, second is making sure your Efforts are aligned with the company’s goals, third is having a Service Mindset to want to help or serve others and finally, it is the ability to build and sustain Strong Working Relationships.

Personal effectiveness in relationships determined by how well we can understand and interact with others, using what I refer to as a T.O.P.P. approach – The Other Person’s Perspective.   It is this approach that has served me extremely well and has also had a significant impact on my clients.

I will discuss the T.O.P.P. approach in more detail in future blogs.  For now, I will use the principles as a key tool to working with the different generations we experience on the job.

Right now, I am working with clients who have 3-4 different generations all trying to work together and they are struggling. The main reason is that they have different expectations, needs and values and they don’t understand each other.

Here is a classic example:

A senior executive who is in his early 60’s is completely disgusted with a millennial at a job interview. The young candidate enquired about opportunity to grow and to travel once he started the job. Being from the Traditionalist generation, the executive deferred to authority and did what he was told. He had to work long hours and earn everything he received such as a raise, a promotion or even an opportunity to work on an important project.

So, he looks at this inexperienced millennial with judgement. In his mind, he is thinking – who the heck do you think you are?  You can’t just come out of university with high marks and expect to get these opportunities. You have to prove yourself first just like I did.

Older generations lived to work. Often their identity was wrapped up in the jobs and their titles.

Success was determined by how hard you worked, the long hours you put in and the loyalty you showed. Today’s younger workforce works to live. They saw what happened to the generations before them: working so hard and then they got laid off, the company closed, there was a merger and they lost their job, they got divorced or had unhealthy relationships because they were always at work and invested very little time with their families. Or, they finally retired and were about to enjoy life when they suffered a serious illness and never got to enjoy their long earned retirement.

Millennials do not want to go down the same path.  They want a company to give them access to knowledge, to include them at the management table so they can learn and understand. They are looking for opportunity to live in the moment and enjoy their lives. They want flexibility in work schedules and the ability to work electronically. They want to contribute in a meaningful way and not be stuck doing menial tasks because they are the newest member of the team.

Rather than be condescending and dismissive with each other, all generations have a fantastic opportunity to grow and learn from each other.

How do you get along?

  • Embrace the opportunity as a form of personal development
  • Develop a spirit of curiosity and find out what each generation values
  • Set up platforms to hear all ideas and be willing to explore the inexperienced ones – it could be the start of something innovative for your organization.
  • Encourage older generations to share their wisdom, their expertise and to become mentors to the younger generations.
  • Recognize that the times have changed – what was once unacceptable, may be very much needed today
  • Find ways to structure work that accommodates the transition to retirement and the transition into an organization
  • Find out where individual passions lie with each individual and create projects that help leverage those passions
  • Review your company policies to ensure they are refreshed with the changing times
  • Update your culture to attract and retain the new breed of employee

Incorporate these nine habits into seeing other’s people perspective and you will have a more rewarding working relationship with whomever you encounter.