How to engage with younger colleagues

Jeep Chang

January, 24 2019, 6:00 AM

Working in multi-generational teams is a reality, so much so that organisations today have upto 4 generations working at the same time. As an older employee, there is additional pressure on you to be relatable, relevant and accessible by your younger colleagues. Here are some tips that can make it easy to have meaningful conversations and drive value for your organisation. 

  1. Be friendly, empathise and see how your experiences can help them.

Most younger co-workers are new to the workforce and don’t have any clue on how to maximize their roles at helping the company. Hence, this is when you could come in and introduce yourself to them, guiding and helping them as a mentor. But please don't assume the role of a 'mentor' just yet. Keep the conversations easy and listen to what they need. By becoming a sounding board and talking more to them, you’ll be able to understand how they think and act. Remember, you too were young once and never liked unsolicited advice. Be thoughtful and keep the exchange light, fun and the communication channels open. 

  1. Be digitally savvy. 

Statistically, younger workers are spending more time on social media platforms and their phones than seasoned workers. For that reason for updating your social media profiles, staying upto date on technology and being more active online allows you to have a better understanding of the lifestyle and behavior of these younger workers. It shows them that you are relevant. It also increases the chance of interacting with younger workers since you’ll be able to have common topics to discuss..

  1. Keep it brief but useful

As a younger worker, they are most likely to have less patience and be less interested in what you are saying unless you have a common topic to discuss on. Hence, it is crucial to be precise and clear on what you’re trying to tell them, it also has to be valuable to them if not they’ll lose interest quickly. Pre-conversation, think of what is your intention and what you are trying to achieve from this talk. At the same time, don’t attach too much to the outcome but rather on delivering the message.

  1. Scale down the formality

It is important to keep formality at work, but this doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the rules or call meetings when you can just talk to them individually. Be casual, light and accessible. Sometimes it may be more beneficial and productive for the younger workers, if they don’t have to stick to the rules exactly. Not saying that sticking to the rules are not important, but it will be less effective to use the same systems on youngers workers compare to senior workers.

  1. Respect and appreciate them

Most younger workers are wary of working with senior professionals because of their vast experience. That creates an invisible pressure that you may not be aware of. Hence try complementing them and encourage them, show them respect and appreciate on their work. In return they will do the same and won’t have as much pressure when talking to you the next time around. 

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