Part 3 of 4
Thank you so much for joining us for Part 3 of our series on building inclusive and cohesive teams with an emphasis on maximizing generational diversity in the workplace. We know the importance of intentionally creating an environment for all age groups to be heard and understood, but we also understand that conflict can arise in these situations. As an influential person within your organization, we want to equip you with the strategies for successfully navigating these conflicts, for healthy growth and positive change.
In our previous posts, we explored a conflict between a Baby Boomer and a Millennial/Generation Y. In this post, we will explore a potential conflict between a Generation X (currently between 41-56 years old) and Z (currently between 6 and 24 years old) using the KOR framework. The VBD's KOR framework promotes getting to know someone, practicing open and non-defensive communication and appreciating everyone's role on the team.
Angela (Generation X) and Jayden (Generation Z) work together in an Administration department for the government. Angela has been employed with the company for the last 10 years and Jayden, a year. Everyone tends to be open to his modern suggestions and recommendations; however, her suggestions are considered outdated. Angela shows little interest to his ideas and openly criticizes Jayden as being 'one of those inexperienced young people'. Jayden particularly dislikes the stereotyping and feels stifled in his growth. The tension between Angela and Jayden has started to impact the department's morale and overall productivity. You are the head of the department and decide to meet with them separately, starting with Angela. Here is how the KOR framework can be applied:
Knowledge (K): As the leader, you have a responsibility to directly address instances of stereotyping behavior among your staff. Share your observations of Angela's stereotypical comments toward Jayden and reinforce the importance of promoting an inclusive environment on the team. If stereotypes involve classifying someone's character based on their status or group, the best way to break stereotypes is to get to know someone. Encourage Angela to speak to Jayden one-on-one, simply for the purpose of practicing active and uninterrupted listening. Generation Z's, by their very presence in the workplace can spark change because of their radically different perspectives and solutions to problems. This change does not have to be seen as disruptive.
Open Communication (O): Before you can ask those who follow you to practice open communication, you have to be a model of it. You know that Angela is usually supportive of the team's ideas and is a passionate and hardworking employee. The behavior with Jayden is new. After sharing your observations with her, ask her what has influenced this new behavior. You might find out that Angela's deepest need at this stage of her career is to be recognized for her knowledge and expertise. Her behavior resulted from her feelings of being pushed aside because of her age. As the manager, while you acknowledge Jayden's new ideas, create a space for all voices to be heard, especially those from Generation X.
Role (R): Although Jayden is young, he joins the team as a specialist in Administration because of his extensive learning from YouTube and his own start up business part time. Encourage Angela to be more accepting of his role on the team and his experience despite his age, while also underscoring the importance of her role as implementor. Focus on what they have in common rather than what separates them, and emphasis the team's goal as the bottomline.
We can actually see in the example above that the conflict between Angela and Jayden provides an opportunity for more inclusive leadership. Our methods of operating and leading might need to change to accommodate the various groups of people represented in an organization and this is a learning experience not only for the employees, but the leader.
For more growth and education in handling conflicts and other such areas, visit our Professional Development Training Academy. Also, join us next week for Part 4 where we will explore the conversation that will happen with Jayden, using the KOR framework. Can you guess how that encounter might play out?