In our Multi-Generational Teams workshop, Session 3 hones in well-being. Well-being is important for anyone, not just a multi-generational team. But in the case of a multi-generational team, it is vital. Lack of focus on well-being is costing organizations to the tune of $20 million of lost opportunity for every 10,000 workers. Well-being is more than just being physically healthy, as we teach and train. It’s about having a healthy environment where people work cohesively together. As Elizabeth Knox says in her new book Work Reimagined, “Everybody should have the opportunity to work well and live well.” Knox tells the story of preparing to run a race and her partners help her by setting a great pace that will allow them to all finish the race together. Too often, multi-generational teams don’t run the race together which leads to the demise of the team. Knox asks leaders the question, “Will you prioritize compassion and kindness over productivity?”
There is a need for multi-generational teams to prioritize compassion and kindness. I call it Resilient Kindness. It’s the kind of kindness that helps immediately and over time. It’s the kind of kindness that compels and fosters team cohesion and increases effectiveness.
Studies show that acts of kindness not only help the person in need at the moment but builds resilience in both parties for the future! But this isn’t just saying nice things or being nice for niceness’ sake. This is connecting with a person when adversity strikes and responding with kindness that aids in bringing that individual to a version of themselves that is able to confidently traverse the adversity. On a multi-generational team, that could look several different ways. Here are a few thoughts:
- Help on a team project
- Inquire about their family
- Show compassion when frustration arises
- Give public praise for their ability to persevere
- Offer specific support and encouragement
Let’s talk about that last one for a moment. Forgiveness, on a multi-generational team, could be the master key that unlocks the potential of the team. Oftentimes, there are hidden assumptions between generational gaps. When a mistake is made, those assumptions allow us to vilify the person based on those preconceived perspectives. Although at times it seems like harboring the reality of the mistake seems right, research has revealed that forgiveness actually rebuilds a sense of confidence and overall control to both parties. The kindness of forgiveness creates a reconnection, trust, and resilient relationship that will carry the team to new heights and abilities.
Perhaps you are thinking that this all sounds good, but Resilient Kindness doesn’t exist on your team. You might be surprised to learn that Resilient Kindness has a domino effect. Researchers have found that kindness in the workplace comes back full circle. Our natural impulse is to attempt to pay someone back for their kindness, not take advantage of it (which does happen at times). But plenty of research supports how contagious kindness is and reveals the resilient nature of a community of people that generate kindness as a norm. Here are some ideas on how to cultivate resilient kindness on your multi-generational team.
Resilient kindness starts when there is a need. At times, people on our teams won’t reveal their needs. Talk about resilient kindness and give opportunities to people on your team to assist you in your places of need. This is specifically powerful if you are the manager/leader. Allowing someone from a different era to have a place in your life that is significant can shift the culture of your team.
The words of the great poet Eminem come to mind in the sonnet he penned called Lose Yourself released decades ago…in 2002…accurately describes what one’s posture needs to be as it pertains to awareness.
You only get one shot
Do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime
Some of you know the next words to this Academy Award-winning Best Original song. The moment to impact someone with resilient kindness can hinge on one golden opportunity. Keep your eyes up, ears open, and heart available to the opportunity.
Be committed and intentional
Anything worth keeping takes commitment. Your team is worth intentional resilient kindness. Make it a consistent practice that you look for ways and moments that resilient kindness can take center stage. Now, some of the biggest pieces of advice from leadership gurus and thought leaders is to be committed and intentional in one area or another. Intentionality and commitment in one area can be exhausting, let alone multiple directions. So instead of having everyone on the team commit, choose people who either operate in high levels of either resilience or kindness and compel them to take the lead. Acknowledge them in the areas where they are already strong and compel them to take it to the next level by adding the resilience or kindness piece. Resilient kindness is contagious!
Will you prioritize compassion and kindness over productivity? Are you willing to run the race, not so that you will finish first, but all will finish together? Make that your goal and cultivate resilient kindness.