Diversity on teams generally breeds better results and more success. Is this now true of the generational diversity in the workplace? It can be if you as leaders provide team building across generations. Maximize the value of generational differences and you can realize the potential and success of experience meeting youthful innovation.
There are light, fun ways for team members across generations to get to know each other. If you want members of multi-generational teams to get to know how they each think, here is a more substantive approach proven to go deeper than the surface.
I developed this exercise, Success is Ageless, to use with one of my customers and I now use it in several variations with many other customers around the globe.
Team Building Across Generations
Benefits of the Success is Ageless Team Building Exercise:
- Common bonds built from both similarity and difference
- Fewer fear-based hidden blocks
- Respect from common struggles of different journeys
- Success from experience meeting innovation
Setting: Simple office training or conference room that allows people to move around and work together. The setup must encourage interaction. Do not do this exercise around one conference table or in a room with rows of tables/chairs. These setups do not encourage interaction.
A/V: Internet access, printing capability, flip charts/easels, videoconferencing (if virtual teams).
Approach: Step One – Have each team member select an image from online resources — one image from her/his early childhood or early teenage years. They should select an image that made an impression on them, say something about them, or changed their outlook in some way. If for some reason you will not have internet access, ask the team members to do this in advance and bring the image to the team building workshop.
Once this step is done, break into groups of 3 team members each of mixed generations. For the image from childhood/adolescence, each one tells a story about what was happening to her/him that coincided with that image. How did it shape who they are today?
Step Two: Hand out a pre-printed image of a current event. Team members in each group discuss the image. A current event that suggests struggle and success/achievement works well.
Here are the guided discussion questions for this segment:
- What feelings and values do we share about this event?
- Where do our outlooks differ?
- What do differences represent to each team member — win/lose, right/wrong, need for collaboration/flexibility, chaos/order, fear/courage, hierarchy/teamwork, etc…
To end this team building exercise, highlight how team diversity can breed great success. It may take longer for teams to gel and get along. Nonetheless the different talents, knowledge, outlooks, and innovative ideas make teams capable and ready to handle any challenge. Diversity also helps prevent the terrible plague of groupthink.
Pair up one last time. Write and read aloud one positive statement about the talent, knowledge, and insight that your partner brings to the team’s projects and success. This final step secures the lessons learned of respecting differences and carries them into daily teamwork.
Learn to Love the Differences.
Find the Fit.
Celebrate the Shared Successes!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
©2010-2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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I invite your questions, welcome your wisdom, and look forward to working with you.
~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™