Generations in the Workplace: How to Get Along

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There seem to be a million books, articles and posts on this topic. While I don’t intend to devalue this topic, I’m slightly concerned that this is an ongoing issue. Shouldn’t just the act of being polite and respectful make “trying to get along” irrelevant?

My current co-workers range in age from just graduated college to closer to retirement than they want to admit. While we all have different methods and ways to get the job done, isn’t the main point that we all get the job done?

Is the problem really generational, or is it more communication or work style? In my office there are over-communicators (I’m one of them) and those who only give information on a need to know basis. I know some great multi-taskers that are not members of the Millenials or Generation X. I also know some Generation X people who couldn’t multi-task if they had to.

I think the solution lies in understanding how the people you work directly with daily want to communicate and get their work done. If your manager only gives information out on a need to know basis, asking a barrage of questions probably won’t help you. Additionally, if your manager can’t multi-task, letting him know that you have a question when he gets to a stopping point might be the best way to get his full attention. If you’re afraid you might forget your question, write it down!

There’s a great article here on Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees. It has helpful timelines and a chart of personality and workplace characteristics.

The main point is to be polite and respectful, even overly polite and respectful, of everyone you work with daily. If you just follow that, I believe the generational differences will be minimal.