The Generation Gap – Integrating A Team Of Old And Young People

I’m a new team member in a large hospital and I see that this hospital has a system that works on old “tradition.” Many employees are old and they have been working here for a long time. They won’t accept new things or new ideas and are working based on their habits. New and younger employees are afraid of these old employees, so even if the old employees are doing the wrong things, nobody can change them. What do you think we should do?

The Team Doc Says…

Your workplace is encountering a problem that will become more and more common as time passes. The baby boomer generation is getting older and a new, younger generation is working hard to be a valuable part of the organization. These generations must converge and be productive together. A good place to start is by understanding what drives this “older” generation of team members.

  • They like to feel important — they are the “stars” of the organization.
  • They want to be treated fairly.
  • They want their knowledge to be valued.
  • They like to talk about and show you what they know.
  • They like to be viewed as young and vibrant, not old and stodgy.

So here are some suggestions for you.

  • Find an organization champion to help you integrate new ideas into the organization. This should be someone who is viewed as having authority in the hospital who can get things done. A trusted person who is well thought of. Talk with this person about your ideas and how they can add value to both the hospital and its patients.
  • Seek out older workers who can be mentors to the younger crowd. You can learn a lot from these team members and they can learn a lot from you.
  • Learn from them. Older workers have a ton of knowledge and experience for you to learn. Soak it up. Ask questions. Dig deep into the value they have to offer you.
  • Don’t refer to them as the “older” generation. With Baby Boomers, 60 is the new 50 and 50 is the new 40. They don’t feel old and don’t want to be perceived as old.
About Denise O'Berry

Hello! My name is Denise O’Berry — aka Team Doc. I’ve spent years working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. You see some of that advice in the answers on this website. I’d like to help you too. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Comments

  1. smcvanel says:

    Good advice or not, referring to the “old” employee and the “young” employee is, in my opinion, quite patronizing. There is a vast literature on the topic of intergenerational working relationships, and I have yet to uncover one source referring to the “old” (conjuring up images for me of “over the hill”) or “young” (conjuring up images of immature with minimal skills). Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Milennials are terms I prefer. How about Boom, Bust and Echo (Foot, 1998) or When Generations Collide : Who They Are, Why They Clash, How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work (Lancaster, 2002) to name two books, but there are hundreds of journal articles as well based on industry-specific issues.

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