6 tenets of multigenerational team building in radiology

A recent article in Radiology Management discussed strategies for multigenerational team building within radiology practice. Team building in a radiology department is crucial and has been linked to healthcare costs, employee morale and quality patient care.

The authors, Jason T. Costanza of the Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga and Sandra K. Collins of Southern Illinois University, specifically discussed how to better manage various generations, including baby boomers, gen X-ers and millennials.

“The current radiology workforce includes a more diverse pool of individuals from varying generations than ever before and developing an effective and efficient work team with disparate age groups can present a challenge to even the most seasoned radiology manager,” the authors wrote. “It takes special managerial awareness and skill to cultivate a cohesive group of any group of employees, but building a successful multi-generational team is specifically challenging. Multigenerational team building involves thoughtful reflection and an in-depth insight regarding generational differences.”

Embracing the Generations. Managers should realize that each generation within the radiology practice has different strengths. Capitalizing on the diversity, creativity and energy the group can offer benefits and managers can leverage those various qualities for the betterment of the radiology practice or department. Embracing the generations also yields an inclusive environment, which leads to employees feeling engaged, valued and purposeful.

Coaching the Generations. Though coaching mostly comprises of working with employees on an individual level, radiology managers can also coach their employees based on the values that are important to each generation. For example, when interacting with the Depression-era generation, managers should focus on distinctions between management and employees as one of their core work values is respect for authority. Managers will be more successful coaching these individuals if they focus on their unique characteristics during everyday aspects and manager and employee interactions. And strengths-based coaching, using praise and positive reinforcement, while gently exploring shortcomings are often effective with the millennials.

Rewarding the Generations. While the Depression-era generation may still prefer monetary rewards, individuals of other generations may want an assigned parking space as reward for good work. The authors note that simply asking employees what type of rewards they prefer. It is recommended that radiology managers address the five employee needs of any generation which include advancement opportunities, enhanced work/life balance, better compensation and benefits, additional respect and recognition, and access to learning and development opportunities.

Building Management Skills. Radiology managers should be vigilant in developing their own skills to lead their workforce. Leadership itself is a significant factor in building an efficient multigenerational workforce and there are many areas where a manager can focus their attention to enhance their own team building and management skills. Managers should be introspective of their own values and manage their social and emotional intelligence.

Training the Generations. When training radiology departments it is critical for managers to look into different types of learning for various generations because that may result in positive outcomes. Some generations such as the Depression-era generation or baby boomers may want structured learning within classrooms while some of those in the younger generations may favor technology-based flexible learning or collaborative, hands-on and engaged learning.

Generations and Conflict. Radiology managers should take special care when dealing with conflict in the workplace. Research indicates there is a significant connection between generational groups and conflict attributed to generational work-value dissimilarities. Conflict issues and sources of disagreement could be exacerbated, amplified or created due to generational differences. Resolution methods should be mindful of the generational differences. Providing consistent expectations and goals with clear policies and procedure, while maintaining an inclusive environment where managers focus on each generation’s expertise and attribute can help reduce conflict.