Getting Older and Younger Team Members to Work Together

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We are struggling with some generational divide issues. I am on the younger side and COO in our firm. It’s been one of my goals to get the younger advisors involved in decision-making and committee work. We have a number of work streams for different initiatives and I have two of our under-30 staff members running them.

I’m running into a problem in that when the less-experienced team members present their ideas, the long-time staff dismisses them as “been there-done that” almost before the idea is fully vetted. It’s very demoralizing for the people who are working hard to make change happen. I’ve been in the meetings myself and often ask if we could just hear people out, put aside our biases, pretend we are working with a blank sheet of paper and so on. But my admonitions fall flat.

I keep thinking I should bring the long-term team into a room and tell them their behavior is appalling and unfair. But I don’t want to portray the younger team as having complained to me. One of the longest tenured advisors told me, “Everyone under 30 wants things handed to them on a silver platter” – so I don’t want to play into this inaccurate view. Our staff, on the whole, works very hard and does great work for our clients. Some of the ideas created by our newer team members are exciting and all are in the best interest of our clients. But they involve change and I realize most people, especially advisors who have been doing this for a long time, avoid change.

What else can I do to create a more collaborative and supportive environment? It is my role to fix this.