I work in an office that has a large generational gap and most of the “in office” staff is female. More than once this has led to ruffled feathers and confrontation, usually on a more personal side.
More and more, however, I am noticing the younger staff turning to other young members of staff for advice and information on work related activities. This worries me as most of the younger staff, myself included, started in the office about the same time so if one person doesn’t have an answer, it is likely the person they ask doesn’t as well. This has also led to issues, which worries me because I like my job, coworkers and our company and truly want us to be a success.
I have always been one for asking questions, it doesn’t embarrass me because I would prefer to have all of the information and expertise I can when doing a project. I recognize that not everyone feels the same way, but I know that the more seasoned employees have expertise and knowledge that us younger gals can benefit from. I wondered if you had any advice on how to bridge this gap and get people engaged and interacting (positively of course)? Also, do you think that setting up some type of mentoring program within the office would be of any help?
– Gen Y
Dear Gen Y,
First of all, I applaud you for recognizing that your Gen Y team is limiting their growth by not taking advantage of seasoned Boomers. Based on conversations following my programs, I also know that some Boomers can be less willing to accept changes they deem to be “less professional”. Your idea of mentorship is outstanding, but it’s the buy-in you need. Otherwise, individuals on both sides may feel frustrated being paired up randomly with someone they don’t naturally choose to share time.
The Boomers would LOVE to be asked for their advice and input. I might even go to them (or the most agreeable of the group) and lay it on the line.
“All of you have such knowledge and depth in our industry, and I’d like to figure out how those of us that are less seasoned can learn from you. Do you have any ideas? Do you think we should start a mentoring program or have a brown-bag lunch-n-learn where you teach us something you think we can benefit from knowing? We’d also like to support you in any way with things we might find easier to tackle such as technology or apps. If you think this is a good idea, perhaps we can get everyone together and flush out some ideas for topics.”
Everyone just wants to be validated for who they are and what they bring to the table. What a wonderful way to make this happen.