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Generations United: How Young Women Can Connect with Experienced Colleagues

Updated: Apr 29


Judy and Linda having coffee

Welcome back to "Dear Judy and Linda," your one-stop shop for navigating the professional landscape.


This week, we're flipping the script and tackling an often-overlooked question: how can young women build stronger relationships with their more experienced colleagues?


This topic came up loud and clear a EvolveMe's recent Leadership Roundtable, where women ERG, DEI, and HR leaders discussed fostering cross-generational collaboration and allyship in the workplace. It's a crucial conversation that deserves a spotlight!


And we have firsthand experience – when we were building EvolveMe we leaned on our colleagues in their 20s to help us innovate with the latest digital tools and stay up to date on social media strategy.


So, if you're a young professional looking to connect with more experienced women on your team, keep reading! We've got valuable insights to share that will help you build bridges and unlock the power of cross-generational collaboration.


And if you're an experienced professional, this post is for you, too! You'll learn how to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment, fostering the next generation of female leaders.


So who’s in the workforce today? 


The modern workplace is a vibrant mix! We've got Millennials (38.6%), Gen Xers (34.8%), Traditionalists (2%), Baby Boomers (18.6%), and the rising stars of Gen Z (6%) - six generations united at work.


This diversity is fantastic but can also lead to some communication hiccups. Seasoned pros might find younger colleagues’ directness overly blunt, while younger women could think their more senior colleague’s indirect approach as verges on passive-aggressive.


Other potential roadblocks to stellar cross-generational collaboration:


  • Young women might hesitate to seek the wisdom of senior women, fearing rejection or judgment. Or they may expect pushback given differing attitudes about work/life balance.

  • Younger women who’ve risen in the ranks quickly may worry that experienced women view them as threats.


  • And then there are the hidden stereotypes. Women in the early stages of their careers might think senior women are out of touch, while older women may see their younger counterparts as tech-obsessed and lacking experience.

Generational differences are certainly not new. But the good news is we can overcome them by being strategic.


At EvolveMe, we're passionate about leveraging the unique strengths of each generation to drive success and innovation.


In our Dear Judy and Linda series, check out Emiliy's question about building bridges with more experienced women colleagues! 


•••••••


Dear Judy and Linda,


Hi there! I'm a young woman in my late 20s in a new role, and I'm struggling to connect with some of my female colleagues in their 40s and 50s. I feel like there's a disconnect – like they’re my mom! And they don't understand how my generation works or communicates. 

It makes it hard to build rapport and collaborate effectively. Any advice on bridging this gap and building stronger relationships with women who are more senior?

Emily M., Marketing Associate 


•••••••


Dear Emily,


Hi there! It's completely understandable to feel this way. Generational differences can often create communication challenges in the workplace.

Now that remote and hybrid work are more common, there’s often less opportunity to casually get to know each other in person—say, over lunch or coffee.

We want success for you! Here are some tips to bridge the gap and build stronger relationships across generations: 

Hint – you already have the skills! 

  1. Find common ground: Find areas where your interests or work styles overlap. Maybe you both enjoy a particular type of humor or music, share a passion for a specific industry trend, or appreciate a well-organized workspace! Focus on these commonalities to build rapport.


  1. Initiate casual conversations: Whether you’re in person or on zoom, we’ve lost the art of striking up conversations outside of formal meetings or work tasks. Ask your colleagues (across ages!) about their hobbies, interests, or career journeys. Active listening and showing genuine interest can go a long way. Chances are you’ll find something you can bond over—even if it’s your favorite hot beverage! 


  1. Embrace Different Communication Styles: Recognize that your colleagues might prefer face-to-face interactions or phone calls, while you may be more comfortable with emails, IM, or text. Be open to adapting your communication style to their preferences for smoother interactions. 


  1. Offer Your Skills: Your generation thrives on technology or social media. Offer to share your expertise in these areas, demonstrating your value and fostering collaboration.


  1. Find a Mentor: Consider seeking a mentor in a more senior colleague. This can provide valuable guidance and bridge the generational gap, fostering understanding and building a solid connection.

Our research shows that when women support each other across generations, everyone wins! The benefits are undeniable, from inspiring younger women to break down age stereotypes to empowering senior leaders to mentor and guide.

Building strong relationships is an ongoing process. You can create a more positive and productive work environment for everyone by initiating conversations, finding common ground, and respecting differences. 

You’ll be an amazing role model for other young women who will look to you to learn how to foster more empathic relationships with women of all ages and stages! 

Want more tips on how to collaborate and communicate best with your colleagues? It all starts with getting to know YOU! Complete EvolveMe’s How to of You User Manual. And for more impact, share with your colleagues as a team building exercise!


To your success,


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