Can AI Help Bridge the Generational Divide?

Artificial intelligence can act as a generational translator and coach employees and managers on how to see things from others’ perspective.

The generational divide in the workplace can seem stark.

 I remember as a Generation Xer being put off by the mentality of many of my Baby Boomer colleagues. I wanted to efficiently and quickly finish my work. My eyes were always on the end goal of completion, whereas my Boomer colleagues often seemed more focused on the idealism of the process and perfecting everything beyond what I thought realistic.

Meanwhile, those employees younger than me often seemed so sensitive that I was afraid I would say something wrong—utter a word or expression that had become verboten or offensive.

An article in Forbes by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., points out how artificial intelligence (AI) systems can help different generations of employees relate better to one another. It sounds like what he’s saying is the technology can act as a generational translator or divergent perspectives coach.

AI Can Teach a Manager How to Give Tailored Feedback

For example, it can enable a Generation X boss to provide the kind of feedback a Millennial or Generation Z employee would find useful. Robinson quotes Dr. Anne Snyder, curriculum lead manager at Praxis Labs, on how AI technology can be woven into employee development: “…companies can use AI-powered training and learning technology to bridge the generational divide and improve workplace collaboration and culture by creating personalized feedback systems, enhancing communication platforms, and fostering inquiry-led leadership development.”

Snyder explained that AI can allow a manager to practice giving feedback to a variety of personality types, with the system simulating possible responses to the feedback. The manager then can learn to adjust their approach to suit the personality types and generational preferences on their team.

AI Can Help an Employee See Other Employees’ Perspectives

Growing up in different eras is one factor among many that determines a person’s unique perspective. An AI system can provide a program with a simulation that puts one employee in the shoes of another.

“Research has shown that one of the greatest ways to address misunderstanding and conflicts is by finding points of connection and commonality. Technology allows us to do this at a scale. In particular, immersive learning, where the learner takes the perspective of others, has been shown to develop empathy,” Snyder told Robinson.

AI Can Give Learners a Chance to Apply Skills Immediately

I have heard the younger generations are less likely to want to wait to apply the skills they learn. Whereas someone my age or older would assume they had to wait years for a promotion or at least months to a year to apply a learned task, many young people, it seems, want it all right now. Growing up with the ease of technology, they are not used to waiting—for anything.

With that in mind, technology that enables learners to immediately try out their new skills can be both practical and cathartic. “With real-time feedback and actionable coaching, learners are able to iteratively refine and practice their skills on-demand wherever learners feel most safe and comfortable,” Snyder explained to Robinson.

Younger employees grew up in an on-demand world. Technology that enables them to have what they want from managers—exactly the way they want it—can be a significant generation bridge.

The manager no longer must wonder how to accommodate perspectives that vary greatly from their own. They can practice doing it and then give impatient employees a chance to try out their own new skills right away.

Do you see ways to use AI to bring different perspectives in the workplace together?