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Generational Diversity: Building Inclusive and Cohesive Teams

Part 2 of 4

Welcome back to Part 2 of the journey on building inclusive and cohesive teams. It is paramount that we create inclusive spaces in the workforce for all generations to be heard and equally valued. However, we do understand that this comes with the challenge of misunderstandings. For this reason, we are exploring generational diversity with an emphasis on navigating its associated conflicts.

In our previous post, we explored how to work through a conflict between a Baby Boomer (currently between 55 to 73 years old, John) and a Generation Y or millennial (currently between 24 to 40 years old, Emily). Emily is always coming up with new ideas for a marketing project but rarely follow through on any of them. She usually asks her team lead, John, for more time to work through her ideas but he constantly demands and pressures her to deliver, which produces shoddy work. John was selected as the team lead because of his extensive experience and accomplishments on previous projects. Emily comes to you requesting to be placed on a different team.

Last week, we applied the VBD's KOR framework (knowledge, open communication and roles) to help Emily see things from John's perspective. Today, we will use it to give John deeper insight into Emily's reasoning and actions so that they can work through their conflict.

The VBD's KOR framework promotes getting to know someone, practicing open and non-defensive communication and understanding the role each person plays on a team. Here is one way in which the framework can be applied:

  • Knowledge (K): Help John to see that millennials tend to be driven by a deeper meaning and purpose for their work and its impact on the wider society. Talk to Emily about her passions and how they can tie into the overall goals of the marketing project. One of the benefits of having an intergenerational workforce is a more comprehensive understanding of your target market because the age segments are represented on your team. You might find out that Emily is deeply passionate about injustice against minority groups, and her ideas could give insight into reaching this new market segment. Since this is John's final project before he retires, it could be the edge that tops all his former accomplishments.

  • Open Communication (O): Prompt John to patiently ask for clarification when he observes a pattern of behavior in any of his team members. He can first state the observation, the impact of the behavior, and then seek clarity. For example, "Emily, I notice you have not been meeting the deadlines for the project (observations). It worries me to think that the team might not complete our project on time if your critical deliverables are not produced promptly (impact). Is it that you are not able to manage the workload I have assigned to you? (seek clarity)." Upon listening to Emily's reasons, this could be the opportunity for John to suggest check-ins every two months because millennials tend to value open and ongoing communication between themselves and their superiors.

  • Role (R): Each team member's role on the team is valuable. Emily's role, according to Dr. Meredith Belbin, English researcher and management consultant, might be a planter. Planters have an excellent way of solving unconventional problems because of their creative and imaginative nature, but they can also be forgetful. If John collaborates with Emily to decide on one of her major ideas for the project, she can focus her creative energies entirely on solving the problems associated with that area and contribute to the overall team's goal. Additionally, for John, as a shaper, communicate the importance of employing emotional intelligence, not only with his interactions with Emily, but the entire team.

At the heart of it, to be an organization that promotes diversity, inclusion and equity with its workforce, is to be an organization built on respect, integrity and teamwork. These are some of the biblical principles and values that Victorious By Design uses to empower individuals and organizations to reach their maximum potential. A generationally diverse team could be one of your best assets.

For more comprehensive education, visit our Professional Development Training Academy.

1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 14, 2021

This is a great read! Great advise for helping each generation see how the other think.



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