Generation gap

Capitalise on Mentorship to Navigate the Generational Gap

With the generational age gap so prominent in the workforce these days, now is the perfect time to capitalise on mentorship and enhance workplace productivity.

A generational shift is gathering steam in the workforce. A workforce so diverse in age, now is the time to collaborate. Baby Boomers are putting off retirement while employees more than 50 years their junior (Millennials) are readily emerging. In some cases they even compete for the same position. This healthy rivalry conjures up a real mix of opinions and work ethics.

When the machine is rostered up and complete, the masterpiece is worth admiring. A workplace so diverse and streamlined you were wondering why you didn’t act on the benefits of this generational gap sooner.

Boxing match or perfect match? Read on for our leadership training tips on how to capitalise on the workplace generational gap, no referee required.

The mindset

When Estelle walked into the office as an official employee for the first time – nervous was an understatement. Yes, she had made it through three interview rounds and met with the team, but it was now official. It was make or break for her career as respected marketing executive, and she was going to give it her best.

As she hurried past the cubicles of the people who had been there done that, she felt piercing eyes on the back of her neck. Were they intrigued with her attire – was it her hair or her shoes? Had they noticed how much younger she was? Or, were they just busy-bodies in general?

Without looking back Estelle presented herself for duty at the executive office. This was going to be the best day of her life.

The generational gap at its best

Estelle’s enrolment on the roster had been spoken of since assigning the job. Her references were gleaming, her work samples were shining, but it was the un-spoken word which was more stirring for the staff. These employees weren’t checking her out they were excited for her arrival, and Estelle had not planned on that.

Estelle was a Millennial amongst a predominant Baby Boomer and Gen X work group. She had the backing to turn the brand offerings upside down with new technologies and on-trend ideas. For Estelle, digital content was already second nature but her new group of colleagues had only dipped their toes in the digital marketing pool.

What she had over them with technology and trends, they had over her with wisdom and years of on-the-job knowledge. This was a generational gap about to pave the way for skill upgrades on a two-way street.

How the generational gap can enhance workplace productivity

Perfect for those situations like Estelle’s, workplace mentoring can boost productivity and efficiency.

A recent workplace trend is reverse mentoring. This is an arrangement of partnering middle management or senior leaders with these younger employees.

Younger recruits are often technologically-savvy and adept at topics that older employees may not have been exposed to as much – communication and computing technologies, social media and current trends. The learning process flows back and forward, benefiting both employees.

As skills and life experiences are exchanged, the business becomes more efficient through a collaborative brainstrust.

The basic principles of reverse mentorship

To work effectively consider these principles:

  • The relationship of mentor/mentee should be mutually beneficial
  • It is important for both parties to contribute to one another’s personal goals and desires, not just one-way
  • A willingness to learn and a flexibility to change is essential
  • Don’t limit discussions to technology or workplace skills. Remain open to anything that can help provide a clearer understanding of the generational gap and the varying procedures and processes
  • Ditch any “we have always done it this way” attitude

Collaborating through mentorship is a way of cultivating the future generation of leaders and saluting those who have already done the hard yards.

Estelle’s presence in the company stirred the pot indeed. She was a way forward for those dedicated compatriots and they couldn’t wait to start exchanging ideas with her.

Want help with your mentor program? Just check in with our mentors at Empowering Ambitious Women.

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I am a Mum, business founder, author and accomplished CEO with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate world. My childhood dream was to become a fighter pilot, but when that didn’t materialise, I found my place in the corporate world, climbing the sales and marketing ladder to my role as CEO of Cox & Kings Australia.

I'm the founder of Empowering Ambitious Women, I've led start-ups to companies with annual revenues from $55 million to more than $250 million. My role as CEO of Australia’s leading franchise network of professional builders saw me as a pioneer in the industry; as a female CEO leading a large franchise home building company.

I was formally recognised twice by the Telstra Business Women's Awards my achievements in business.

As a woman who became one of the 16% of female CEOs, and who has led in male-dominated industries, I’m passionate about creating pathways for women leaders to step up, take a seat at the table and own it.

I love; French champagne, socialising, dining out and having an impact...

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