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Want unity? Plug the generational gap

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

In a diverse workplace, you may make repeated attempts to get four generations of employees to work together seamlessly. Good luck with that. Try these techniques to promote teamwork among individuals with vastly different outlooks.

Highlight common themes. Events such as the aftermath of World War II may have influenced people in their 60s and 70s, while 9/11 is a huge part of young professionals’ life experience. But both groups can agree on core concepts such as honor and integrity. Emphasize shared values to foster team spirit.

Model empathetic understanding. You want team members to see the world through each other’s perspective, but you can’t just insist that people show empathy. It’s better if you demonstrate it through your daily interactions with staffers.

Make an extra effort to mix with people of all ages and backgrounds. Listen to learn how they see the world, and signal your understanding of their viewpoint (even if you don’t necessarily agree). When others observe your open-minded behavior, they will follow your lead and strengthen their relationships with co-workers of different generations.

Create informal networks. Host pizza parties or other casual gatherings where employees of all ages get to know each other. Spark conversations where they open up about their favorite leaders, most cherished values and best memories.

— Adapted from “Management for All Ages: How to Better Lead Your Multigenerational Team,” Derek Matthews, www.business.com.

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