If you’re a millennial, here are some tips to earn your older colleagues’ respect and close the generational gap

If you’re a millennial, there are creative ways to get your older colleagues’ respect
If you’re a millennial, there are creative ways to get your older colleagues’ respect

Meeting a variety of personalities and age groups in the workplace especially at the beginning of your career is inevitable.

A good qualification or strong credentials are sometimes not enough when your colleagues underestimate your worth because ‘they have been working before you were even born’. 

In this dilemma, how do you gain their respect as a fellow colleague and how do you gain their trust as a competent professional?

Anja van Beek, founder of Anja van Beek Consulting & Coaching, told 702 FM in this interview the different generations you may find in the workplace are wideranging:

  • The traditionalists (older than 75 years old)
  • The baby boomers (54-75 years old)
  • Generation X (38-54 years old)
  • Millennials or generation Y (22-37 years old)
  • Generation Z (22 and younger years old)

READ MORE: Tips for young leaders leading the older generation in the workplace

But, there are creative methods you can employ to manage the different personalities to build trust and respect. 

Celeste Stewart, owner of Bold Curiosity – a people development consultancy business, shares tips on how to reel in the respect of your colleagues when you are young and navigating the workplace. 

1. Deliver and show your competence

Take a humble approach and show a willingness to learn from scratch.

“Delivery and competence, nobody can take that away from you,” says Celeste.

2. Be curious

Celeste says don’t only ask your colleagues about their work but also ask them to share with you what they have learned to help them along the way.

READ MORE: AT A GLANCE: We still have only one female CEO in the top 40 companies in SA

3. Build relationships

Celeste says you should remember that you are at work not only to learn but also there to build relationships.

“Whenever you are working in a department build relationships with people, get to know the people, get to what they are expecting, what’s important to them, how they are wired – and not in a way of wanting to manipulate,” she said.

4. Put your opinion out there

Celeste says if you work hard and build relationships with colleagues, they will be more prepared and more tolerant to hear what you have to say.

5. Choose your battles 

When among difficult colleagues you need to choose your battles, and know what you can and cannot control, she says. Recognise the different personalities.

If you’re addressing someone one-on-one it is important to match their energy.

READ MORE: What to do if your workplace environment is toxic and you can’t leave

“There are different types of personalities in the working environment so I try and make sure I address different people differently but still staying true to myself.

“It’s knowing who you’re engaged with, what the purpose of the meeting is, what I want to get of this meeting – and those are the indicators I will use to help me decide what is my energy is going to be like. But most important thing, I stay true to myself,” she says.

Employ the PLOT analysis

When making decisions about how to approach certain people at work, Celeste recommends the using the PLOT analysis to guide your decisions.

Personality – Look at what you notice about a colleague’s personality

Language – Observe the choice of words that they use, either verbally or in an email or in any other correspondence. 

“Language tells you a lot about a person is wired and so you will know how to approach them,” she says. 

Opinion – Look at what is the colleague’s opinion on certain world matters.

Tasks – Pay attention to how the colleague likes to get tasks done, for example if they are micromanagers or focused on the bigger picture. 

READ MORE: You’ve heard about ghosting in relationships, but what if you’re guilty of workplace ghosting?

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