Here are some suggestions for managing the generational divide from a cultural standpoint:
1. Find the blind spots. Although younger information workers can be brilliant and brimming with useful knowledge, some need support in deciding “what to do next” in terms of daily tasks. Campbell attributes this need to technology that has put young people since birth in worlds that are literally programmed for them. Identify the blind spots and fill them.
2. Train for creativity. To offset blind spots, organizations must present open-ended challenges to workers. With training, they will be able to adapt to unstructured opportunity, and innovation will thrive.
3. Create new mentorship models. Young workers have never been more talented, so the traditional model of having the older worker teach the younger won’t always work. On the other hand, senior workers possess valuable experience that can only be acquired over time. Therefore, mentorships can be bi-directional and should be based more on specific competencies than seniority.
4. Train on generational differences. Salespeople of every generation need to be educated explicitly about generational differences of all types. These differences can dramatically affect how customers like to be approached, how much information they need to make a decision, and what they expect in terms of service.
5. Bring generations together. Differences can create disconnects. Intelligent strategies that capture and integrate unstructured knowledge – speech, chat, IM, email, audio, video, documents, etc. – bring people together for optimal business performance.
6. Preserve the human touch. With so much emphasis on Internet communication, face-to-face relationships are becoming a lost art. Successful companies will keep their collective interpersonal skills sharp through company events that reinforce social graces.
7. Consider a Generational Council. Some companies have established internal committees to formally examine workplace challenges and opportunities related to generational differences in workstyle. The council’s agenda should include potential skills development, collaboration and customer engagement initiatives – as well as open, candid conversation.
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