Here’s a fact to consider: In 2020, for the first time in modern history, we’ll have five generations in the workplace at the same time. That’s a lot of talent, a lot of skill, and a lot of difference in mindset, perspective, and style that will either merge together or collide. You might say it has the potential to be a huge success or a colossal disaster.
The key to success—in your own career and in your workplace—is one word: collaboration. Think of the essence of collaboration as tossing a lot of ingredients into a pot, mixing them together, and ending up with a phenomenal recipe. One ingredient doesn’t overpower the others; instead, the flavors complement each other.
Collaboration’s Biggest Challenge
The challenge to collaboration lies in closing the generation gap, and that can be easier said than done. The emerging workforce:
- Is well educated, smart, and dynamic
- Tends to embrace change
- Relies on technology, gadgets, and apps
They’re constantly connected, and they prefer to work quickly and move on.
Employees who are closer to retirement age can be baffled by younger generations like Gen Y and Gen Z. They may even be resentful and feel overlooked or dismissed.
If this situation isn’t remedied, a battle of wills may ensue. And you don’t need me to tell you that this is a recipe for a workplace disaster. If we can’t figure out a way to bridge gaps, then that lack of connection will affect everything in the organization.
Overcoming Obstacles to Collaboration
Obstacles to collaboration that management must overcome include:
- No common end goal to work toward
- Lack of communication
- Hidden agendas
To plan for success, management must first consider their workplace culture. Is it truly one that supports a total team effort? Or does the leadership tend to support the company stand-outs?
Second, company leaders must motivate employees to collaborate and focus on opportunities to bring together the “old guard,” so to speak, and the newer employees. This can be tricky because collaboration isn’t necessarily a natural ability; it’s a skill that people have to practice and grow into.
But it’s worth the effort. In a collaborative environment, each generation is open to the talent, skills, ideas, and experience the others brings to the table. They all work together to reach the organization’s goals, and success belongs to everyone who helps make it happen.