Team Building Across Generations

Bridging the generation gap

A few weeks ago, we tackled a pretty in-depth topic – how to deal with a multi-generational workforce.

“In any one company there may be people from four different generations working together, all with different career ethics, goals, and values,” says Katie Morell, Meetings Today. This diversity is invaluable. “Employers with a generationally diverse workforce benefit from having access to employees with a broad set of skills and experience,” according to Robert Half. However, such diversity can also bring about challenges and “breed conflict,” says Morell. “And today’s work teams are more generationally diverse than ever.”

As we pointed out in our previous blog, one of the best ways to bring so many different ideologies together to form one cohesive, well-oiled unit is Team Building!

“Maximize the value of generational differences and you can realize the potential and success of experience meeting youthful innovation.”

– Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

What Does Multi-Generational Team Building Look Like?

When dealing with team building across multiple generations, there are a few important factors to consider.

Bridging the Generation Gap

When dealing with two, three, or even four different generations, the number one team building competent to consider is Inclusivity.

“Inclusion can be increased by objectively attempting to comprehend and assess behaviors of those from diverse generations,” write Jill M. Moore, PhD, RN, CNE; Marcee Everly, DNP, ND, MSN, RN, CNM; and  Renee Bauer, PhD, MS, RN.. “Ultimately, inclusiveness permits team members to recognize and appreciate what they and others have to offer, esteeming and engaging each member of the team.”

One way to promote a sense of inclusion is to focus on what everyone has in common and “encourage them to stretch beyond the obvious,” says Moore et al. This will help breakdown pre-existing barriers and show participants that they are not quite so different after all.

TA Exercise: Dance Machine

Objective: Getting To Know Each Other Better

How it Works: Participants must introduce themselves, and share something about themselves that is not known. Then they must share their dance move, which the other participants must replicate. Click here to see video.

“Research has demonstrated that teamwork increases effectiveness because teams can achieve more than individuals alone,” write Moore et al. “It is not simply due to the increase of people; the achievement is obtained through pooling of knowledge, skills, and creative energy.”

Building Relationships

When a common ground is established, the next step is to develop Trust. This will help further the relationship and allow it to develop into something more meaningful that will extend beyond a single day of team building.

“Intergenerational teams that work well together have developed a solid foundation of trust,” says Moore et al. “The presence of trust allows team members to admit errors, discuss weakness, and voice concerns without the fear of reprisal.”

However, trust does not come easy. As theologian Isaac Watts once said, “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.” Trust must be earned. And until we have a solid foundation of trust, we can never truly build a meaningful relationship. Fortunately, trust is one the the core themes of any good team building program.

TA Exercise: Wild Woozy

Objective: Develop or Improve Trust

How it Works: After learning how to spot, two people at a time get up on a triangle 1 foot off the ground and use each other for support as they go from the apex to the base of the triangle with their teammates for spotting support. We like to call this exercise total commitment, as participants must really commit to each other to be successful. Click here to see video.

“We are all unique,” write Moore et al. “Yet, there remains common ground that binds us.”

Open the Lines of Communication

Another common component of any good team building program is Communication – and this is perhaps never more important than when dealing with a multi-generational workforce.

“The ability to communicate is a cornerstone of effective intergenerational teams,” says Moore et al. However, “each generation has a different perspective of acceptable channels of communication.” The trick is finding a way for all parties to effectively and comfortably communicate across generations.

“Some suggest it is not the differences in generational groups that cause division,” write Moore et al. “Rather it is fundamental organizational failures to communicate well with employees.” Millenials prefer electronic forms of communication, such as email and text messaging, while baby boomers favor face-to-face conversations. “Effective teams work to develop an understanding of how each generation represented communicates by open discussion and agreement about modes of communication that the team will utilize,” says Moore et al.

TA Exercise: Toss A Name

Objective: To Communicate Clearly And Understand The Nuances of Verbal And Non-Verbal Communication

How it Works: Standing in a circle, participants must toss soft objects around the circle in a specific order. Participants learn how to provide verbal and non-verbal communication.

“When done well, team-building activities can…help build better relationships and increase communication among your team members,” says Lynn Flinn, CPA, president and managing partner of The Rowland Group of Staffing Companies.

Team Building Across Generations

Terrapin Adventures is able to create a customized program (onsite or offsite, indoor or outdoor) to help bridge the generation gap and streamline your workforce. After each exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind each activity and how they translate to the business world. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

Schedule Your Custom Team Building Program!

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited

  1. “9 Statistics Employers Should Know About Millennials | Masterson Staffing.” Masterson Staffing Solutions, 9 Nov. 2017, www.mastersonstaffing.com/blog/9-interesting-statistics-about-millennials/.
  2. Flinn, Lynn . “Leader 2 Leader: If millennials teach us anything, it’s that team-Building events are important.” Tulsa World, 18 Jan. 2018, www.tulsaworld.com/business/tulsabusiness/leader-leader-if-millennials-teach-us-anything-it-s-that/article_9703650b-4bec-50e9-99f4-f8673924c7e4.html.
  3. Moore, Jill M., et al. “Multigenerational Challenges: Team-Building for Positive Clinical Workforce Outcomes.” The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, vol. 21, no. 2, May 2016.
  4. Nasser, Kate. “Team Building Across Generations – Proven Approach | #leadership – Kate Nasser.” KateNasser.com, 22 Nov. 2015, katenasser.com/team-building-across-generations-%E2%80%93-proven-approach/.
  5. “The Key to Managing a Multigenerational Team: Don’t Overthink It.” Robert Half, 15 Nov. 2017, www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/the-key-to-managing-a-multigenerational-team-dont-overthink-it.
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