We are in the century of a complete digital change in traditional small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are largely being run by entrepreneurs who started their professional journey decades ago. With experience they have developed a certain way of working, which they believe to be the traditional way of doing business. Such businesses are popularly called “family-owned businesses”.
I am a new entrant to such an organization, where I started my journey 2 years ago. My objective was to grow the business and achieve new heights. Just like me, the youth from newer generations bring new ideologies, beliefs, mindsets and styles of working. Bridging the gap between different generations of entrepreneurs is really important for such a business to achieve its goals and succeed.
So, what personal characteristics do we need to develop, in order to bridge the age gap and work effectively as a team?
I shall highlight a few of my experiences that played a critical role in helping me identify these characteristics.
Patience - Practicing patience will bring the best out of others
In this era of digitization, anything is possible with just a single click of a button. The newer generations (primarily Millennials and Gen Z) have been able to keep pace with digitization and changing technologies. Meanwhile, the older generations are still struggling to embrace this wave of digitization. Hence, more often than not, new generations are quick to make decisions, which makes it easy to undervalue the experience that the older generations bring to the table. Taking time to assess important decisions and having a patient approach, are characteristics that they have developed with experience and these have become a core part of their working styles. So, on one hand, the older generations find it difficult to change their working styles, and on the other hand, newer generations fail to provide them with the required time to adapt their styles to fit the requirements of the modern age. To bridge this gap and avoid negative emotions, my experience has taught me to be patient.
And as it is rightly said, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting”.
- Joyce Meyer
Adaptability - have an open mind and be willing to adapt
From childhood to academics and our professional career, we meet different people at every stage of our lives. With time we realise that not everyone is the same and that we need to adapt in order to accommodate different personalities in our social and professional circles. Knowingly or unknowingly, we have changed our styles at every stage of our lives to develop long-lasting relationships. Similarly, in order to bridge the age gap at our workplaces, we need to develop a sense of adaptability. We need to understand that every individual’s working style may be different from ours and that we need to have an open mind to accept diverse sets of ideologies. I have learnt that flexibility and adaptability can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of work and on our happiness and well-being.
Discipline – Be disciplined and start from the grassroots
Discipline is having the right work ethic and being willing to do what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it. In my opinion, it begins with understanding our place in the organisational structure and knowing that as entrepreneurs we need to be humble and be a jack of all trades. To bridge the age gap and work together, we need to learn from others and it is from the grassroots where we must begin our learning. From being punctual at work to taking up small but important tasks like delivering documents, we need to be willing to do any task that will take us closer to our and our organisation’s objectives.