It’s been said that the most challenging part of a business is managing people, and many managers know this all too well. What’s more, this can be further compounded when you have a team that is multi-generational in your call center. Now that Baby Boomers are often working alongside those in Generation X and Generation Y age groups, there are some generational differences in the workplace being seen that can impact everything from camaraderie to productivity, and everything in between. This can include things like varying degrees of technological savvy, different communication preferences and opposing approaches to tasks.
Here are some employee management tips on how to handle these differences, so you can reduce conflict and improve the relationships within your call center.
Address it Directly
Many employers try to avoid having an open discussion about generational differences, for fear it might make employees uncomfortable. But if you’re tactful and intentional about how you broach the topic, having a team-wide conversation can actually be a really valuable use of time.
Start by highlighting some of the strengths that different generations tend to bring to a company, and what they can teach one another. Be sure to reinforce that age-related teasing or discrimination will not be tolerated, so team members don’t treat the meeting as a joke or misinterpret your point.
Then, ask each employee to discuss their communication preferences. Generation Y team members might prefer using a messaging app like Slack for questions or quick internal conversations, while Generation X might like email best and Baby Boomers may prefer the phone. Simply talking about these preferences can go a long way in helping employees understand each other better, and work together more harmoniously.
Provide Different Levels of Training
While there are certainly older folks who are very technologically savvy, many of your Baby Boomers and even some Generation X employees are less likely to be as up-to-date with newer tech as Generation Ys typically are. But they still might want to be. For example, one survey found an equal percentage of Generation Ys and Baby Boomers wanted more investment in cutting-edge technology solutions; however, nearly 40 percent of Baby Boomers also said they wanted to make the existing technology at the organization more user-friendly too.
It’s perfectly okay to provide different tiers of training, budget permitting, so that the employees who need trainings most are the ones receiving it. Your Generation Y group might want to learn something sophisticated, like the nuances of your real-time reporting, while the Baby Boomers may need a refresher on the basics of your contact center platform. Don’t overtly segment these training by age (that’s a big danger zone in HR), but ask managers to decide whom on their teams needs which training most.
Lastly, remember that not all roles require deep technical proficiency. If there’s someone on your team who is tech-averse, but never needs to know all the systems your company uses, there’s no need to waste their time (or your resources) on training.
Connect Team Members Intentionally
Keep in mind that those in Generation X are often really helpful in bridging the gap between Baby Boomers and Generation Ys. Since they’re sandwiched between the two groups, they can often relate to both and do a good job bringing them together. One of the best employee management tips for multi-generational teams is to pair or group people together who are in different generations.
One idea is to create a mentor-ship program, where a Baby Boomer and a Generation Y employee work together once per month to teach one another in complementary ways (e.g. the Baby Boomer might work with the younger person on some customer service techniques they’ve learned through years of experience while the Generation Y team member might teach the older person about some shortcuts they’ve learned in the company’s CRM system). And if there’s ever a direct conflict between the older and younger generations, try bringing in someone from Generation X to mediate.
However you do it, it’s important to have your company working in unison, despite age or other differences. The best teams are diverse in knowledge, skills, and backgrounds, and you can maximize yours by being intentional about managing several generations at one time. Contact us to learn more about employee management tips or business tools, or find out how we can help you grow.