Resolving Conflict Across Generational Lines



We should all work in a multi-generational organization. Whether it is decision-making or brainstorming, there is so much richness and wisdom that comes from soliciting different perspectives.

However, with all the positives that come from the different generations working together, there are also unique challenges. Difficult conversations are necessary to a business' success across generational lines.

Why does it sometimes feel harder to confront an issue when it’s with someone of another generation?

Typically, we sidestep having the conversation because confronting behavioral or attitudinal issues is just not fun to do. Add on that you need to confront someone of a different generation who reports to you or someone who has been in the field longer than you have been alive, and you have a situation that is appealing to avoid.

What’s the problem with avoiding these conversations?

First, the issue will not just go away. The unresolved conflict will remain until it is fully addressed. Rarely do issues resolve themselves. Second, your generational difference will always exist. If you lead millennials, they’ll always be millennials. It is important to learn how to work with them and that includes how to confront them.

In Fierce Generations, we have an exercise centered on values. The purpose is to see how your values align with common values of the different generations. Doing an exercise like this with a multi-generational team is beneficial on many levels. With any team it always helps to see how you are alike and to understand how to deal with differences.

Perhaps in the exercise you learn that most of your baby boomers hold Gen Y values. Taking a deeper dive as a leader can strip away any preconceived idea you might have about someone based on their generation. When you understand the values of the person you are confronting, their generation becomes secondary.

As a leader, how do you resolve conflict with someone from another generation?

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