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Generational Diversity: Building Inclusive and Cohesive Teams

Part 1 of 4

Congratulations! You have an organization that promotes generational diversity. Your teams comprise Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y and Z because you have intentionally created an inclusive environment. This is great; but what do you do when your team members begin to experience intergenerational conflict? Allow me to introduce VBD's KOR (pronounced 'core' framework) for building inclusive and cohesive teams.

  • Knowledge: Get to you know and understand your team member.

  • Open Communication: Employ techniques for non-defensive and non-critical exchanges.

  • Role: Appreciate the role that each person plays on the team.

In this month's series on generational diversity, we are going to explore real life examples of intergenerational conflict and how you can apply the KOR framework to help navigate disagreements and build stronger teams.

John (Baby Boomer) is working on a marketing project with Emily (Generation Y). He was selected as the team lead because of his extensive experience and accomplishments on previous projects. Emily is always coming up new ideas but rarely follows through on any of them. She usually asks him for more time to work through her ideas but he constantly demands and pressures her to deliver, which produces shoddy work. Emily comes to you requesting to be placed on a different team.

  • Knowledge (K): Encourage Emily to take a moment to step into John's shoe. As a baby boomer, he is more likely to place a strong emphasis on personal accomplishments. He might come across as a workaholic, but it is because he highly values quality and efficiency. If Emily gets to know John's story a little more, she will learn that this is his final project before he retires; therefore, he is more motivated than the usual to finish his marketing career in shining glory.

  • Open Communication (O): If Emily can understand John's perspective, teach her how she can communicate to John that she cares about the team's goal and she is not trying to sabotage his reputation or performance. She can use Petrea King's framework for handling with difficult conversations: "I notice, I imagine, I feel". For example, I notice that you usually press for tight deadlines on our marketing deliverables, and I imagine that the successful completion of this project is particularly important to your career, but I feel overwhelmed by your demands which affects my performance. This kind of non-defensive communication could open the door to re-negotiated timelines and less tension as they work together.

  • Role (R): Highlight that each person has a particular role on the team which influences his/her behavior. John's role, according to Dr. Meredith Belbin, English researcher and management consultant, might be a shaper. Shapers tend to be task oriented and highly driven, but they can be impatient and inconsiderate of other's feelings in getting the job done. Help Emily to understand that she does not have to take John's actions as a personal attack. With this understanding, they can focus on accomplishing the team's objectives.

Conflict and misunderstandings in work styles and communication are some of the greatest challenges organizations face with a generationally diverse workforce. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, and it is possible for us to work together

Join us in our next blog post for Part 2 to learn how John can be more understanding of his team member Emily, using the KOR framework for promoting effective intergenerational collaboration.

For more comprehensive education, visit out Professional Development Training Academy at

1 Comment

Unknown member
Sep 12, 2021

Love this. Looking forward to Part 2



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