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« Influencing Someone Who’s Blocking Your Progress | Main | Real World 101 for Soon-to-Be Grads »

May 06, 2010

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Inter-office relations is a hugely complicated subject. As coworkers, people step on each others toes and create petty rivalries all the time. Thanks the tips, hopefully they can help bring the "crazy" down at least one notch.

Alexandra, Inspiring post! Collaboration between generations is really a big challenge for organisation management to think about. I came across a video post "Jack in the Box" by Vineet Nayar, he asks if our organisations today are ready for this new generations. You might be interested to see this. http://www.vineetnayar.com/jack-in-the-box/

While I appreciate this advice, I say forget about chronological age. Whether I'm working with kindergartners or retirees, they all have things to teach me. An openness to learning from everyone you encounter makes age much less important.

As an "older" worker, I don't expect humility from younger co-workers. I don't expect extra respect because of my age and experience. I understand that age and experience don't necessarily mean that I know more than someone who's younger than I am. I do expect the same consideration that an effective colleague and/or leader gives to anyone. Input should be sought when appropriate regardless of a co-worker's age.

In a time when mutual mentoring is increasingly important--when each of us, regardless of our age, may have valuable information, ideas, and insights to share, it's time we moved beyond worrying if the person sharing is older or younger than we are.

This may be the most condescending piece of "advise" ever printed. I hope no one you would consider "older" ever has to work for you!
Grow up. People are people.Curse words come to mind..........
Molly
age 64

Thanks for your post. Everything you mentioned should be done with whom ever your work for, regardless of age. We all have areas of expertise and a leader should know how to leverage the wisdom and knowledge all employee bring to a team.
A strong leaders recognizes they need everyone giving 100% to reach a goal.

I used to work with an older lady who was at one point my mentor, and then she retired... 5 years later she decided to come back out of retirement and come back to work for the company. The only difference this around was that I was the seasoned professional while she was 'new' to the current market situation. This proved to be challenging because half of the things I wanted to give her advice on became a debate on how she was older than I was, had more experience, blah blah blah... There are just some people who can't accept the fact that they're no longer on the pedestal they once were and will always cling on to their prime, even though it retired with them long ago...

This is just one scenario as an outlier, but I've also worked with many people with differences in age ranging as high as 30+ years with no problems. It's really a matter of personality at that point, rather than professionalism. Either way, I still appreciate the tips on working with the generational gap. =)

I so agree with the comments posted here. I too felt it was somewhat condescending while the writer may have had the best of intentions in mind as she wrote her advice.

My advice is to see everyone as an individual, regardless of age, sex, nationality, skin color, etc., and not as a stereotype. You are not going to like everyone you meet, but everyone deserves respect.

One of the best ways to get to know someone in the office, is to suggest that several share a "potluck" lunch. Sharing a meal, however simple, is a great way to begin to break down barriers you or others may feel.

What is with all this advice popping up lately on how to deal with older/younger coworkers? Effective relationships boil down to courtesy and common sense. Surely we can find other topics to explore without having to manufacture age issues.

@Anne: Generational issues are hot, what can I say? People perceive them as real whether they are or not, so that makes it a topic they want to talk about. And while people may believe that age characterizations are purely based on stereotypes, the truth is that there is research to back them up. Thanks for reading!

@Shar: Totally agree with the suggestion to share a meal and get to know people as individuals, on a personal level.

@Paul: That sounds like an interesting experience, that fortunately you were able to learn from. Personality is the most critical component, this is true.

@Mary: This is true, and the reason the information was presented in this way was simply because people asked.

@Molly: I'm sorry you did not like the piece, but if we're in a condescension competition, your comment wins.

@Wilkins: Thanks for bringing up the idea of reverse mentoring - this is SO critical in today's multi-gen work environment.

@Mark: Great link, thanks for sharing it!

@DC: Yes, as evidenced by the comments here, although I'm glad for every one. Thanks to all!

As someone who just turned 60 I found Paul Hughes comment about older workers "cling[ing] on to their prime, even though it retired with them long ago" rather disturbing. It might be useful to consider that in some arenas (the Supreme Court, for example) people aren't generally considered in their prime until they are at an age where the business world would have long written them off.

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