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Dec 04
20151204 Jakoba_Blog_Focusing on Generational Strengths Not Differences

Focusing on Generational Strengths, not Differences

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December 04, 2015

Though it may seem like a contemporary issue, generational gaps have always existed in the workplace. With people of different ages working together, each and every company has distinct groups with distinct talents. Rather than seeing this diversity as an advantage, many companies tend to see them as sources of conflict and obstacles to success. First we’ll tell you why we tend to think of differences in a negative light, then we’ll show you how to turn it around.

Why do we Focus on Generational Differences Instead of Generational Strengths?

1. It’s a Gut Reaction

Like it or not, we tend to focus on others’ differences rather than on our similarities. Our natural tendency is to accentuate negatives and take positives for granted. Just because it’s a gut reaction doesn’t make it productive, however.

2. Conformity Comes Naturally

As social beings, we like the feeling of being in pack. That’s why we tend to drift toward those who are like us and form an “in” crowd. Everyone not in the “in” crowd is out of luck. Once more, conformity is something that comes naturally, but it is not a positive attribute in the workplace. The workforce should be held to a standard of quality—but that’s where strict conformity should stop.

3. “This is the way it’s always been”

Inherited, long-standing, and widespread biases and prejudices are harmful and unacceptable—even more harmful, perhaps, because they’re more difficult to eliminate. If your company has a tradition generational bias, embrace company initiatives that help older and younger employees work on projects side by side.

4. HR’s Job is to “Fix” Differences

HR has lots of responsibilities in the workplace, but its job is not to “fix” certain employees and get them to think like the rest of the crowd. The most successful HR initiatives recognize generational differences and use generational strengths to enhance the overall performance of their companies. Here’s how to do it.

How to Utilize Generational Strengths

• Make Yourselves Unique

Every organization is unique, but few realize and accept it. Rather than trying to be like every other company, recognize individual employee strengths and figure out how they’ll help your company. Who knows where your unique talent may take you?

• Create a Battle Cry

Give everyone in the office something to rally around. Beat a competitor or strive to overcome a previous sales record, for example.

• Make organizational change

Mixing people up is the quickest way to dissolve generational gaps.

• Encourage Two-Way Mentorship

Though it’s the traditional model, mentorship doesn’t have to be one-directional. Each generation in your workplace has distinct skills that it can teach the other.

HR Solutions from Jakoba

Jakoba provides small companies and Fortune 100 corporations with cutting-edge software solutions for accounting and HR. We help track employee performance, assist in recruiting, and increase overall efficiency. Please visit our homepage for more information.

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