The pros and cons of intergenerational teams

An article about the advantages of developing an intergenerational workplace, prompted me to share this personal story.

My aunt was a prominent figure in the Insurance sector and had a traditional, yet successful career. Nearing retirement, (at 59 years old) she was approached by a forward-thinking, new firm in the market, offering her ‘many times her annual salary’, (in permanent employment) to grow their business and to share her knowledge and coach the younger generation in their firm.

Ten years later, the same insurance company became an active shareholder in my aunt’s first commercial venture, whereby they still received ongoing advice from her (as a consultant) and she had the financial backing she needed to take a step, she had never thought possible.

According to Birkman’s paper, ‘How Generational Differences Impact Organizations & Teams’, Baby Boomers tend to be optimistic, ambitious, competitive, and focus on their personal accomplishments. However, nobody’s perfect and the paper deals with the many issues that organisations can experience with inter generational teams. ‘The good news is that common ground exists among members of different generations. Differences exist on all teams regardless of generation and can be successfully addressed through training, and coaching. Other differences, such as work and communication styles, are an outcome of changes in the workforce that can be addressed in a variety of ways.’

Whilst knowledge may be perceived to some as power, sharing that knowledge is worth its weight in gold. It’s how organisations use the knowledge of individuals in their ‘golden years’, re-training these individuals to advise, mentor, coach and train, that makes these organisations more successful than those that choose to make these ‘senior citizens’ redundant.

Companies who want advice may also wish to read:

Helen Martin is a leadership coach and can be contacted for more information.

What would motivate you to change?

What would motivate you to change? Money, what other people think, or is it something else?

As a coach and someone who is interested in changing behaviour, I’m curious to know what inspires individuals to make a decision to behave differently.

Daniel Kahneman, a nobel prize winner and recognised psychologist, notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, challenges the assumption of human rationality. In his book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, he suggests that individuals are driven more strongly to avoid losses than to achieve gains; individuals are not only loss averse but are also motivated by the negative instead of the positive e.g. if an individual were to be offered a good sum of money to finish a project, they may not finish it, yet they may finish the project if their job is threatened. I’m not suggesting that managers use the stick instead of the carrot, going forward, but this is definitely food for thought.

The book goes on to discuss how individuals are nudged by ‘what other people think or do’. Many of us have stayed in hotel rooms which use a sign in the bathroom, requesting guests to ‘Save the planet and use your towel again.’ Kahneman’s research however shows that using the sign, ‘Join the 75% of our guests, who re-used their towel’, had a greater impact in re-usage than the average. 10% more, in fact! Small changes can have enormous impact.

Companies can change all that they want (processes, management, new ways of working, reorganisations, etc.) but it’s the individuals working in those companies, that need to embrace and implement change. Without the support of individuals, change doesn’t happen. So how are people motivated to change?

How are you motivated as an individual?

Or, how does your company guarantee successful change?

I welcome you to share your comments.

Further recommended reading:

  1. Nudge (improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness), Thaler & Sunstein
  2. The power of Habit (Why we do what we do and how to change), Charles Duhigg
  3. The Marshmallow Test (understanding self-control and how to master it), Walter Mischel
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman