The average office workforce today is made up of a range of age groups. From younger people completing university to those that have devoted their adult lives to their careers and everyone in between, there is usually a representative from the past five generations under one roof, working together for a common goal.
This provides enormous benefits for workers and the company. Young people bring fresh ideas and are often highly motivated to learn. People who are older are often very knowledgeable about their job and provide guidance and leadership. For those in-between there is the chance to build a career with the support of established peers and the zest of new recruits. The benefits of a mixed generation office environment are many, and seeking those benefits and using them will help you develop lasting business relationships and bolster your career.
It is easy to be so caught up in your own tasks or the way that the task is done that sometimes we don’t listen to suggestions. Whether that suggestion is from a new employee who is seeing things for the first time or a senior member of staff who has tried doing the same task a multitude of ways and knows that the SOP you are using works.
When you take the time to listen to those around you in a considered and respectful way, you learn something new. This applies to all people in the workforce. Active listening means taking the time to consider what has been said before commenting or dismissing what you have heard. Sometimes people see things that we miss, so taking the time to consider the suggestions of others is a benefit, not a threat or a waste of time.
From understanding advances in technology to working that gadget in the office supplies cupboard that only comes out when the electricity is out, when you work in a multigenerational environment, there is a great deal that can be learned.
While most people in office environments are familiar with technology and how to apply the tools required for the job, it is important that sharing knowledge be a foundation for all in the office. While knowing how to do everything by computer can be fast, sometimes doing things by hand is easier – and vica-versa. We need to pay attention and learn from each other and each other’s experience in order to reach a common goal in the most efficient way possible.
When we discuss what we know, share our knowledge or experiences and easily admit to needing guidance or information, we empower ourselves and those around us. Our knowledge and experience is something we should share with our coworkers when asked. And when we need help we should turn to those experts in our office to help us. In this cooperative environment, real teams are forged. It is ok to disagree or not understand, the point is that by sharing we increase our knowledge and resources and solve more problems together.
It might seem that obtaining a promotion while the top strata is filed with established workers is impossible. And maybe it is. However, those are the people you can learn from. Rather than resenting a worker who has been with the company for a lifetime, learn from them. They might be seeking a trainee, and if you are eager for a promotion, allow them to share their experiences with you.
Those in senior positions have often worked hard to establish a career. While they might have already been promoted three times by the same age that you are now, it is important to remember that the vertical structure of business operations has changed in the past 10 years. You are likely a more well-rounded worker after years of horizontal movement. There is not always room at the top, and your stay in the position will likely be shorter than any other generations if you are a gen Y. The good news is that you will also have a range of experiences in both digital and analogue work that no other generation has had. Gen Y workers are a valuable commodity.
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