Posted by admin on November 13, 2018 in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Generational gaps in the workplace can be as diverse as Kylie Minogue’s wardrobe. See how to effectively manage the age gap without any bias involved.

With an aging population, generational age gaps are fairly prevalent in today’s job market. And, over the next two decades, these age gaps are only going to become more dominant.

The Australian Treasury Department predicts that within the next 24 years, the proportion of our population over 65 years of age will be around 25 percent (almost double to what is was in 2001-2002). At the same time, growth in the population of traditional workforce age is predicted to slow to almost zero. This represents a much higher proportion of older Australians on the nine to five grind.

So, what does this mean for the job market?

In a nutshell, generation ‘Baby Boomers’ are putting off retirement whilst employees, who can be up to 50 years their junior (Millennials), are emerging. In some scenarios these two generations may also find themselves competing for the same position. A common rivalry which creates an interesting blend of attitudes, educational backgrounds, and work ethics.

And, with a workforce so diversified there are plenty of benefits to outweigh even the best pessimist. Check out our leadership tips to make the most out of any workplace generational gap.


Enhanced productivity

The diverse workplace generation gap has opened the door for enhanced productivity. Businesses are experiencing increased opportunities simply by encouraging colleagues to collaborate.

‘Mentoring’ seems to be a buzz word we hear regularly around the business landscape. And there are plenty of successful business leaders who swear by it.

Sir Richard Branson is renown for endorsing mentorship programs. In fact, he was under the wing of a mentor when he first stepped into the airline industry. As he quotes, he would be nowhere today without the help of his mentor.

It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker (founder of Laker Airways). Now, I love mentoring young entrepreneurs.

As American author and businessman Zig Ziglar said;

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” Find a mentor”, he says.

One workplace trend encouraging collaboration and the trading of skills is reverse mentoring.


What is reverse mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is a process whereby middle management or senior leaders are deliberately partnered with younger employees. Stereotypes aside, the younger generation are often more tech-savvy and skilled at areas that are not so familiar to older employees. These areas generally include computing, online communications, social media, and other current trends.

As the younger generation share their adeptness with these strengths, older employees share their life skills and experiences they have learnt in business over the years. Good examples of these might include how to handle difficult customers and other general troubleshooting tips in business.

Reverse mentoring is a learning process which flows backwards and forwards to profit all parties involved. The business flourishes as the employees become more collaborative.


What are the basic principles needed for reverse mentoring?

Like any good arrangement, there are a few basic fundamentals to consider when participating in a reverse mentorship:

  1. the partnership should be mutually advantageous for both mentor and mentee
  2. both parties must value-add to each other’s goals, not just as a one-way set up
  3. readiness and a flexible, open attitude are crucial to the success of the partnership
  4. discussions need not be restricted to technology or skills in the workplace only. Transferrable skills can also provide a better understanding of the generational gap and can be just as important for business
  5. do away with any set attitudes or misconceptions from the onset

Reverse mentorship is a way to cultivate the future generation of leaders whilst paying tribute to those who have already been around the bushes and done the hard slog.


* For an interesting article on why it’s important to have a good mentor, check out our recent blog The Failed Leader.


Are you part of a reverse mentor program? What skills and insights have you been lucky enough to learn from your mentor already? Or, if you are not part of a mentor program – what would you really love to learn?


Please leave us a comment below.


Alicia Sumich

Group Manager – Business Development

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