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How to Prevent Generational Tension on Your Team

How to Prevent Generational Tension on Your Team

Liane Davey is known as the “teamwork doctor”. An expert on creating high-performing teams, Liane transforms the way people communicate, connect, and contribute through her expertise in strategy and group dynamics.

In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, she shares lessons learned from managing generational tension in her own teams. She says the most important lesson is to see past the stereotypes and to remember that everyone wants to feel valued.

Below is an excerpt from the article, read the whole piece here.

The majority of differences among employees are driven not by generation, or by age, but by their unique personalities. The individual differences within a generation are much greater than the differences across the generations. Take some time to consider each of your direct reports as a whole person — a function of their generation, their age and stage, and their personality. Don’t make the mistake of pigeonholing someone because of the year they were born.

Next, look beyond the simple stereotypes for clues as to why the person might be challenging your leadership. If you feel resistance from them, instead of getting frustrated, try empathizing. If you’re managing someone much older than you, they might have legitimate concerns about your leadership because your style is countercultural or just different from how things used to be done. It’s also possible that their resistance isn’t about your leadership at all. Instead, they might be reacting to your youth because it reminds them that they have been passed on the career track. That’s not easy to accept.

If you’re managing someone much younger than you, the challenge to your leadership might be completely different. Maybe they experience your management style as slow and cautious, or even rigid. Don’t be surprised if they think your job looks easy and they’re frustrated that it is taking so long to get more opportunity. Regardless of the direction of the generation gap, ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to learn from the answers. How is the employee feeling? What do they value? The more of these conversations you have, the more you will understand about how your team members are judging you and what your leadership is causing them to confront about themselves.

Having worked with organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, from across the globe helping teams from the frontlines to the boardroom, Liane has developed a unique perspective on the challenges that teams face — and how to solve them.

Interested in learning more about Liane and what she can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].

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