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A multigenerational team environment is made up of people from different generations who work together. The nursing workforce is undergoing a multigenerational team environment for both men and women of all cultures, faiths, sexual orientations, and races (Sherman, 2006). Veterans, baby boomers, generation X, and Millennials are the four most common generations in the nursing industry today (Hart, 2006). All of these generations in the nursing field have different attitudes, experiences, and work patterns. This means that these differences are the primary sources of conflict in a multigenerational team environment where people may find themselves working alongside people of different generations. This report presents the challenges of working effectively within a multigenerational team environment and evidence-based strategies for improving the work environment to support all generations. First a discussion on the characteristics of the four generations in the nursing workforce today is provided
Characteristics of the four generations
In the nursing workforce, each generation is good in particular things. As a result, there are challenges that exist as a result of diverse generations working together. The different generations share common beliefs but differ depending on the timeline they were born. All generations do not share all aspects in theory.
The veterans: There are regarded as traditionalists who are silent most the times in the workplace. They were born between 1925 and 1945. They have respect towards authority and have disciplined work habits. They don't like risking and have a less likeliness of questioning the organization practices. They usually interested in working in settings that are structured. They value seniority as a way of advancing one's career. They are highly attached to their families and do not want to work for long hours.
The baby boomers are a sandwich generation born between the year 1946 and 1964. Baby boomers have a work attitude similar to that of the veterans in the sense that they have work ethics and values that guide them when working. However, they are more materialistic and ready to work for long hours so as to gain more rewards. Baby boomers are attached to their families, value individualism and tend to express themselves in a creative manner. According to Zemke et al., (2000), baby boomers are egocentric and most of the times are rewriting rules. They occupy most of the leadership positions in the nursing workforce (Thrall, 2005). Baby boomers tend to define themselves and others based on their jobs as well as work performance (Sherman, 2006). Baby boomers tend to define themselves by their work and job performance. They work for their organizations for a long time. They are not technology savvy and like the Veterans, their families are a priority in their working life.
Generation X is known as the Nexers and born between the years 1965 and 1980. Nurses in this generation work for their organizations for a short time. They are diverse in what they want as an organization to work for. Their work attitude is based on high experience and qualifications. Generation X nurses are not attached to their families and will go for divorce when need be (Sherman, 2006). They can work outside home and stay many hours or days without the need for seeing their families. Many of these nurses are also single parents or were raised from single parent households (Karp, et al, 2002). Technology is an important part of the life and advancing their careers in nursing is a priority. When they feel in need of more skills, they will go back to nursing school to advance their careers. They are highly comfortable with technology.
The generation Y are the Millennials and born between the year 1980 and 2000. These are nurses who are members of the global citizens group. They are confidents, technology savvy and highly educated. Many of the times, they will leave working their organizations or work for a short time. In fact, many of them can change careers more than five times in their life time. They have value for flexibility, no need for competition and the need for collective action. Technology is a thing that they want and assume that it will be available to all health care settings and nursing practices. Their selection of position at work depends on their view of the work unit composition. A team that is collaborative will serve these nurses good and can work a positive reinforcement. They value safety and security for their families and would want to work near their families. Millenials accept multiculturalism as their way of life. Immediate communication and technology serve their work conditions best which makes cellular phones as part of their lives. They have values for their work and apply evidence when practicing nursing.
How can nursing leaders use this information to build a work environment that supports all generations?
The differences in beliefs, work habits, and experiences of the diverse workforce generations is useful for nurse leaders to identify and understand what each wants and setup a work environment that supports all of them (Anderson, 2013). While working, nurse leaders need to value the input of every nurse regardless of their generation. There is the need for enjoying the competitive edge offered by every staff based on their skills and work values. The information about generation workforce can assist nurse leaders to reframe their perceptions on generation differences and view them as potential strengths. Being able to view generation differences in diverse ways assists the nurse leader to have a flexible leadership that accommodates everyone, reduce conflicts, and improve quality and productivity as well as maximizing contributions of the staffs.
Identify at least one specific skill that each generation brings to a team.
Each generation of nurses in the workplace has a particular skill that it can bring to the team. Veterans are good at following rules, and meeting deadlines. It means that, in the team, they will teach other nurses how to manage time and meet work targets. Baby boomers are good valuing and following work policies and procedures. They also use experience as reference when tackling current problems. In the team, these nurses will train others how to refer to older solutions in tackling current problems in nursing practice. For generation x, these nurses have high regard to technology and use of different resources when practicing nursing. They can teach the baby boomers and veterans how to use technology at work. Critical thought is a major component for these nurses and can help other in the team to develop critical thinking skills when practicing nursing. The generation Y nurses are great team players. Therefore, they will bring collaboration skills which are important for the team's success.
Explain the types and causes of conflict that are likely to occur within a multigenerational team.
The various conflicts that can occur in a multigenerational team include company culture, communication, negative stereotypes and cultural expectations (Gausepohl, 2016). Nurses from different generations will have different views of the company culture. Generation X and Y may define company culture as huge rooms with tables in a workplace without a set of rules. This is not company culture. Staffs will define the company culture differently depending on their workforce generation.
The challenge of communication style is a major one when old and younger generations in the workplace may collide. Older generation nurses including generation X, baby boomers and veterans seem to love making calls and sending emails. Generation Y love to send text messages, and instant tweets to communicate effectively. They like using informal language, colloquialisms and abbreviations which is not common to the older generations. In such cases, communication breakdown is inevitable.
Negative stereotypes are common conflicts among a multigenerational team. Stereotyping the millennials generation as lazy, technology obsessed, entitled and overeager may result to conflicts in the team. Baby boomers may also be referred to as difficult to teach and stubborn in their ways of practice or working.
Cultural expectations in the workplace occur and this causes conflicts in a multigenerational team. Older generations value the hours spent at work as a measure for performance and results produced are valued by the younger generation. Others like generation Y value work-life-balance. They want jobs where they can have a life when they are outside work. These variations in cultural expectations many cause conflicts in the multigenerational teams.
Describe strategies a team leader can use to help build cohesiveness within multigenerational nursing teams. Be sure you include strategies for communication, setting and managing expectations, motivation, and mutual respect.
The evidence-based strategies for assisting building cohesiveness in multigenerational nursing teams include coaching and motivating, communication, setting and managing expectations, mutual respect and conflict resolution (Sherman, 2006).
For effective communication, the nurse leader must ensure to understand the values and motivations of staffs from different generations regarding their communication and job expectations. Ensure to support everyone and adjust to suit every team member communication expectations. It is necessary to bring nurses together face to face for team building as it will help them learn their communication differences. It will help break barriers that may occur due to digital communications.
In setting and managing expectations, leaders are required to use an approach that allows every individual to work in the best way they know and value. It is also necessary to acknowledge the efforts of everyone in the team irrespective of their method of working. Provide feedback in a proper way to every staff regarding progress and performance. Respect everyone in the team, give solutions in case of obstacles, and help them learn.
In resolving conflicts, there is the need for overcoming stereotypes in the team. The nurse leader needs to present a work ethic for every member in the nursing team. Everyone should meet the expectations of the ethical code. Ensure to intervene when misunderstandings occur based on generational judgments'. It is necessary to use effective ways of educating workers of the company culture and avoid misinterpretations. Learning company culture helps the team to grow together and appreciate one another. In solving the conflicts, the nurse leader need to understand the different attitudes, work habits, experiences and beliefs held by each generation (Sherman, 2006). One should value and support the knowledge, skills and characteristics of every generation in the work environment as it helps in building a team that is cohesive and high performing.
Explain the benefits of a multigenerational nursing team for the organization, the team members, and patients.
A multigenerational nursing team for the organization is beneficial to the team members who can share skills and expertise. They can seek each other's perspectives as well as ways of thinking that is beneficial to their service delivery. Diverse thinking is always necessary for success in organizations. A multigenerational nursing team is also beneficial to patients because each generation can attend to patients with different generational needs. Older patients will prefer being attended by a veteran nurse while a younger patient will prefer a millennial nurse.
Anderson, L. (2013). The Nurse Manager's Guide to Handling a Multigenerational Workforce. Nurses Together. Retrieved from http://www.nursetogether.com/nurse-managers-guide-handling-multigenerational-workforce
Gausepohl, S. (2016). Tackling 4 Key Challenges of the Multigenerational Workforce. Business News Daily. Lead Your Team. Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6609-multigenerational-workforce-challenges.html#sthash.Le3uForh.dpuf
Karp, H., Fuller, C., & Sirias, D. (2002). Bridging the Boomer Xer Gap. Palo Alto: Davies-Black.
Hart, S. M. (2006). Generation diversity: Impact on recruitment and retention of nurses. Journal of Nursing Administration, 36(1), 10-12.
Thrall, T. H. (2005). Retirement boom? Hospitals & Health Networks, 79(11), 30-38.
Zemke, R., Raines, C., & Filipczak, B. (2000). Generations at work. New York: Amacon.
Sherman, R. (2006). Leading a Multigenerational Nursing Workforce: Issues, Challenges and Strategies. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 11, No. 2, Manuscript 2.
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