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Career Counselor
Working With a Multigenerational Workforce

September 2006 It is not unusual today for four generations of colleagues to work side by side: traditionalists (born before 1945), baby boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1977) and Generation Y (1978-1989). Your accounting department could very well consist of members from each of these demographics, which presents a number of challenges and potential advantages. Each coworker brings a different approach to their roles and business strategies as well as varying perspectives on various issues.

The following tips will help you better manage your work relationships in this environment:

  • Recognize differences without falling into stereotypes. Though it helps to keep certain characteristics of the generations in mind, don't assume that all members of the group feel the same way about certain issues. For example, while the work/life balance question is often raised for Generation X workers, it doesn't mean that many baby boomers are not looking for time outside of work to take care of their personal needs as well.

  • Take advantage of the multi-faceted teams. Look for opportunities to participate in groups with colleagues from different generations. You will be able to learn from the strengths and perspectives of your team members, and a forum of diversity of four generations offers a unique opportunity for knowledge sharing.

  • Mingle, don't huddle. Avoid the tendency to cluster with coworkers based solely on their ages. Make an effort to build relationships with all of your colleagues.

  • Seek a mentor. In addition to career guidance, working with a multi-generational team will provide you the insight into working with colleagues from different backgrounds, work styles and attitudes. By pairing with a more seasoned employee, you will be able to gain access to a valuable source of professional advice and expertise.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is a specialized temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps provides support throughout an accounting department. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., Accountemps and has more than 270 offices in North America, Europe and Australia. Accountemps' Career Counselor column, a SmartPros staple for over four years, is refreshed twice a month.

2006 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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