experiences to their work, rich with their own perspective and skill set.” Because of life experiences, you can have great differences in characteris- tics among people of the same gener- ation, and that can just as easily lead to contrasting opinions and stifle col- laboration, she says. “Regardless of a person’s generation, I always try to gain an understanding of the person I am speaking to on an individual level and without preconceived notions.”

Watch for Obstacles In your efforts to develop a positive, collaborative environment encom- passing multiple generations, Dennis says it is important for ASCs to recog- nize the potential barriers that could stand in the way of success. “People of the same generation tend to cluster together,” she says. “While this is not something you can prevent, you will want the generations mixing. If not, you may see cliques developing and a mob mentality spreading.” This could lead to, what she describes as, a “staff infection” that disseminates through employees. “You may end up losing some of them.” Chappell advises keeping an eye out for rude behavior. “I have found there is sometimes a lack of respect between generations until they can see the value of what the other gen- erations bring to the table.” A likely contributor to this dis- connect is communication, she adds. “All four generations communicate differently. Millenials predominantly use text messaging. Traditionalists do not at all. Boomers may have learned how to text but are not great at it or particularly fond of using it. Gen Xers are fine with texting but do not necessarily default to it as their pre- ferred method of communication.” In addition, the way language is

perceived can vary significantly. “I find that I must typically be straight- forward with boomers and traditional- ists, but Gen Xers and millenials tend

To succeed with these different generations, our management style must evolve to reflect the diversity of the workforce and cater effectively to all generations.”

— Vangie Dennis, RN WellStar Atlanta Medical Center and WellStar Atlanta Medical Center South

to better understand subtleties and read between the lines,” Chappell says. For Ridout, the biggest obstacle to

effective teamwork is preconceived biases. “For example, I hear that Mil- lennials are lazy and do not want to work. I do not believe that to be the case. Their concept of work and the way they structure their work may ‘look’ different than the way a boomer may consider the same. Different does not equate to wrong. We must all be able to adapt and evolve.”

Building Relationships To encourage improved collabora- tion, Chappell looks for opportuni- ties to team up different generations. Oftentimes, Gen Xers and Boom- ers are happy to learn about technol- ogy systems from Millennials. “If you have great Boomer nurse edu- cators, they can pass on tremendous knowledge to younger team mem- bers. Gen Xers and Millennials tend to be sponges for education. You will not want to rush or force partnerships or you risk sabotaging a relation- ship. Take the time to figure out who to pair up and consider that you may need to remind staff of the impor- tance of mutual respect.”

Dennis says she has witnessed the benefits of scheduling events designed to encourage teambuilding and a bet-

ter understanding between staff mem- bers of different generations. One such exercise asked team members to complete psychological assessments intended to help define personalities. “A lot of times one’s personality is not just aligned with what era you were born in but the influences that existed and how your socialized value system was incorporated throughout your life,” she says. “After complet- ing the assessments, we published everyone’s key, positive characteris- tics on a bulletin board. This helped everyone get to know each other a lit- tle better and gain a better sense of how to approach one another.” For another event, Dennis says her

organization invited a body language coach. “We focused on communica- tion skills and talked about how to express yourself. Management rec- ognized the value of investing in this workshop as it helped develop a stron- ger understanding between staff.” Few things, however, are more

effective at bringing people together than an old-fashioned cookout, she says. “When you can have fun as a group and get to know each other out- side the work environment, you tend to be more tolerant and open-minded. If you like each other, you are going to be more accepting of different behavior.” Despite your best efforts, prob- lems between generations are likely to arise on occasion, Ridout says. “When that happens, it is my role as an administrator to attempt to bring both sides of the perspective to the table so we can discuss the whole sit- uation. I do not mind a healthy dis- cussion, nor do I mind if individuals can respectfully disagree. I encour- age them to work through their dif- ferences to come to solution. Some- times personal opinions can stand in the way of what is right and best for the organization.”


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