In today’s workforce there can be people of several different ages, from the Baby Boomers to Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. With more people working past retirement age than ever before, and a constant stream of young people entering the workforce, the issue of different working behaviour and communication styles is becoming ever more apparent.

There are stereotypes about the different generations, from the mature, experienced older workers who communicate by email and telephone to the more inexperienced but tech-savvy young people who prefer social media channels to connect with other people. There may be some truth behind these labels and the prospect of managing intergenerational teams can seem daunting.

However, by allowing open dialogue, setting clear expectations, being flexible, providing regular feedback, avoiding stereotypes, having different communication approaches, having systems for sharing and transferring knowledge and providing professional development, it is possible to manage effectively.

It is important to consider people’s behaviours, because how people behave in response to both colleagues, and to the challenges that they have within a business, will influence how well both the individual and the organisation develop and perform.

Psychological preferences that drive behaviour in the workplace are about more than personality. If people learn to recognise and understand their own preferred behaviours and also that of others, they can adapt their behaviour and communication styles to improve working relationships.

How someone communicates and behaves in the workplace is influenced by their character, background, education, training, values to name but a few. Someone who is classified as an ‘introverted thinker is logical and analytical, enjoys problem solving, needs time for reflection, realistic, pragmatic, detail oriented, structured and disciplined and has a strong sense of duty.

On the other hand, the person who is an ‘extroverted thinker’ is bold and determined, confident and optimistic, enjoys stretching goals, leads from the front, sets a winning mentality, thinks big and is direct and to the point.

The person who is an introvert and draws on their feelings is considerate and caring, has genuine concern for other people, avoids conflict, involves others in decisions, respects others’ values, is supportive and loyal and works for democratic solutions.

The extrovert who draws on their feelings is free spirited, friendly and optimistic, generous and open minded, inspirational and visionary, looks on the bright side, has a positive outlook and is spontaneous and imaginative.

It is important that a team should have a mix of the different preferences as this ensures there is a balance in the team. A team needs people who have leadership skills and drive to get things done, creative people who come up with new ideas and are great at networking, people who are logical and analytical, have an eye for the details and are good problem solvers, and the people who are great team members and maintain harmony.

By everyone understanding their own and each other’s preferences helps improve communication between team members and helps to get the best out of people. It is also really helpful to understand when someone is having a bad day as certain behaviours will indicate when someone is under pressure or stress.

Of course, when thinking about the different behaviour styles, it is important to remember that people may have a mix of the different styles and whilst they may have a clear preference for certain elements, they may well be able to operate very ably in the other styles. It just means that some styles come more naturally whilst they have to put more energy into others.

It is not helpful to label behaviours as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but by recognising someone’s preferences, it can help identify areas for development. These classifications are ideal to use in multigenerational teams as psychological preferences for behaviour are a feature of all generations.

At the Age Diversity Forum, we have significant support and expertise measures to help people excel at what they do naturally. Behavioural profiling to help you, your team or organisation harness natural talent and build long-term success.

Jill Cowles | Partnership Manager | Age Diversity Forum

Contact Jill: [email protected]