Author: Shraddha Patil, CEO, Success Route Consulting Services
Learning and Development is an ongoing process. In an effort to make this process more interesting, we have started bi- weekly series in our Whatsapp group , compromising of 100 professionals from various industries. In these series we discuss some critical issues and ways how to handle them. All group members put forth their views on the topic, which are further analyzed and converted into a blog.
Here is one such discussion
AS AN L&D LEADER HOW ARE YOU HELPING YOUR ORGANIZATION/CLIENT DEAL WITH GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY? WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO ENGAGE BABY BOOMERS, GEN X AND GEN Y AT THE SAME WORKPLACE. PLEASE SHARE REAL EXAMPLES AND BEST PRACTICES.
1.Engage and Involve
Gen X has wisdom and knowledge. If the Gen X can engage with the Gen Y and understand things from their perspective, the generational gap can be managed well. As HR leaders we need to identify way by which we can engage both the generations. Some companies are already using certain techniques to bridge this gap. We have a few cases which are practically used in the industry.
Espresso quick learning program – learning over a coffee. In this they pick a subject, and setup a management game around it. The game is led by a member from gen X and then alternatively by gen Y. This way each generation gets to witness the perspective of other generation and the good side of it. This program is driven by an Expresso committee comprising of HR and BU leaders.
We can also create a core team with all the generations as team members. This team would be primarily responsible for all kinds of engagement activities in the organizations. This way we could not only bring the team together, but also drive the engagement related activities
One experience was working with a client from the hospitality sector and the major area of concern was to bridge the gap of multigenerational workforce. To start with we designed a 2 day workshop wherein the first day we created situations wherein they were bound to differ with their views. This created the acceptance that the 3 gens think differently and we need to set some common grounds to work together. After that we looked at understanding the traits strengths and the allowable weaknesses of each generation.
Following day we created activities where they had to work together and establish common grounds of understanding and emotionally handling each other’s paradigms. So the learning became a platform to get them together and then we chalked out an engagement plan where they had to collectively work towards a CSR activity
We need to create learning and a platform to get them together and promote the exchange of ideas which should be facilitated without any bias.
Day 1 first half was more about creating awareness. There was a lot of resistance from the baby boomers to be managed by the millennial X who had completed their MBA and had a team to handle
Similarly the Milennial X didn’t have the hands on experience with managing people and they had to live the reality check after imbibing concepts of management
So somewhere we had to make the baby boomers more receptive to change and unlearn things. Whereas the objective was to sensitize the millenials towards their team emotions.
This had to be achieved collectively where the baby boomers were pushed to regain their mental elasticity to learn and incline the managers to learn from the experience of their team members.
Senior generation are assigned junior mentors with specific focus. While for the Gen Y it creates a sense of engagement, it also gives them a wildcard access to senior members whom they may otherwise not have interacted with. Once the Gen Y feels that they are being heard, they also become open to listening and this is where the Gen X can advise them and gives them feedback without making it seem boring or cumbersome.
One of things we do in our office is to identify individuals as ‘expert on…’ Then every time some one needs inputs on that, they seek inputs from the expert. This way, the gender gap is bypassed. It’s has it’s flip sides but usually works well.
- Patience and Understanding
Do you think we really need a major change in the value and belief system of the company to accept gen y? No, we don’t need complete change in our organization. We just need an understanding that it’s the beginning of their career and a reminder that when we began our career, we also had the same enthusiasm and challenges. If we can accept and adapt this fact it can make a huge difference. It will never work if we push them with an attitude of ‘do as I say’. The Gen X must always be there to mentor them then to force decisions on them.
- Information v/s knowledge and wisdom
DATA when given context becomes INFORMATION, INFORMATION given meaning becomes KNOWLEDGE, KNOWLEDGE given insight becomes WISDOM.
Google mostly gives us data, sometimes information, very rarely knowledge and almost never insight. But Gen Y lacks this realization. They get data and information in abundance but they mistake that for knowledge, wisdom and insight.
This leads to growing disregard for elderly people. Gen X don’t have data in plenty, they only have meaning and insight. Google can give abundant information and hence there is possibility of complexity. The challenge is to mine all the data in order to make it concise and focused, so that the data can be used quickly and properly. In such scenario a mentor will only give direction. We need to remember that our previous generations have “experience”. Synergy is the key word here.
- Life Experience Sharing
This will bring out some beautiful stories of the Gen X. The stories can be learning lessons for the Gen Y. This will help create respect in the minds of Gen Y for their seniors from earlier generations.
- Sense of belongingness
To keep the new hires motivated, first create a sense of “belongingness” and foster that so they feel they have earned their position in this accomplished environment.