Cooperation in Mixed-age Teams

Foto: iStock/jacoblund

Have you ever experienced misunderstandings or even conflict situations in your team because the cooperation between younger and (sometimes more experienced) older professionals does not run smoothly? The European project BRIDGE made some interesting findings on this topic. 

Many people experience “bad vibes” at work that has to do with age as younger and older professionals tend to have different approaches and mindsets when getting things done. The younger as well as the older ones have their strengths and weaknesses - and also some potential. In youth-, social- and educational work the generational issue gets generally little attention.

Searching for skills and methods

Since it is more fulfilling to work together in a constructive way and as knowledge transfer is also a very important and topical issue, a team of youth work organisations from five countries (France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Sweden) wanted to find solutions to these generational problems.

As part of the European project BRIDGE, which was funded by Erasmus+, the international team conducted, among others, an online survey among youth work professionals from different generations and different countries to find out skills and methods for knowledge transfer.

Raising awareness, finding potentials
Another part of the project involved building working groups in which people shared their experiences. The intention was also to raise awareness on both sides: How do the older see the younger (e.g. strengths and weaknesses), and what do they think their own talents and problematic sides are? – and vice versa. 

Out of these and many more findings a framework concept was developed. In this paper you find methods to:
- raise awareness for the topic and strengths and weaknesses of both generations,
- find out the potentials of both age groups.
- and visualise the findings with a potential map.

Methods for knowledge transfer and knowledge management

As part of the project, we developed a handbook that systematically describes methods for knowledge transfer and knowledge management. In this way, the knowledge of a specialist remains in the organization, even after this person has left the organization.


What can professionals, organizations, and the policy level do to improve collaboration and communication among professionals? 

Specific recommendations were formulated in the policy brief regarding:
-    Professionals / Staff: attitude, knowledge and practice
-    Organisations: discover new ways of benefiting from junior and senior workers’ potential.
-    Policy level: Combat the shortage of skilled workers in youth and social work sector, Provide more and better benefits for older generation and seniors.

No differences between countries

As this study was conducted in different countries, it was to be expected that there would be cultural differences in the generational issue. Surprisingly this was not the case: “During the whole process we observed that there is no difference between countries. The "conflict line" lies between Juniors and Seniors, regardless of their origin or work experience”. 

There are many interesting aspects, but one becomes particularly clear in this project: It is helpful to bring younger and older co-workers together to raise awareness and sensitise them for the other generations points of view. And this is a good approach to promoting inclusion and diversity.

Read the whole framework concept here:

Read the whole handbook here: 

Read the recommendations (Policy Brief) here:

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