High Performance Teams in a Multigenerational Workforce: An Example From Academia in Mexico

High Performance Teams in a Multigenerational Workforce: An Example From Academia in Mexico

Cynthia M. Montaudon-Tomas (UPAEP Universidad, Mexico), Ingrid N. Pinto-López (UPAEP Universidad, Mexico), Ivonne M. Montaudon-Tomas (UPAEP Universidad, Mexico) and Marisol Muñoz-Ortiz (UPAEP Universidad, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9906-7.ch003
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This chapter presents an example of high-performance teams in a multigenerational workforce in academia. Special attention is given to the new ways of working that have led to an increase in work by projects which is supported on teamwork and high performance teams. In the workplace, diversity is the new normal. High performance teams (HPTs) are a good example of how to tap on the generational intelligence of mixed age workgroups. In recent years, the trend of working in projects has increased. In the description of the practical case, the way in which teams were developed as part of the strategic planning of a Mexican business school is shown. Analyses were conducted to determine whether the performance perception of the team had a positive correlation with its productivity evaluation and if the team's rating of the value of multigenerational work could be connected to its productivity and/or the performance perception of the team members.
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Different studies have proposed various ideas on what constitutes a High-Performance Team (HPTs). Some of them refer to the structure or the constitution of the team (Warrick, 2016), in which diversity especially in terms of generations is key, and so is the number of members in a team. Multigenerational HPTs have not been abundantly analyzed in literature, and very few examples from academia have been documented. The study of these teams is relevant as they tap on the expertise of different generations, helping develop new ideas and ways of working.

There is a need to examine generational diversity in higher education (HE) based on the fact that the academic work environment favors having members from older generations because of their experience and knowledge, and it also incorporates younger graduates creating a very interesting mix within the workforce. Working in multigenerational teams has its advantages and disadvantages, but the benefits exceed the problems, especially when people are able to see beyond the traditional stereotypes related to age, such as labelling people as being too young or too old to perform to their best.

This chapter presents an example from academia in which the correlation between perceived performance and productivity is measured in multigenerational teams in order to determine whether they can or cannot be considered as a HPT. Organizations are living in an era of ever accelerating change, both social and technological. Competitive pressures require corporate leaders to maximize productivity, and, in order to do so, a different culture is required; one in which New Ways of Working (NWW) prevail. Team work is increasingly becoming a prerequisite to face a turbulent environment (Castka, Bamber, Sharp & Belohoubek, 2001), but just because management calls a group of people working together a team it does not mean they are one, as teamwork does not come easy (Wolff, 1993). Members need to perform their best and to work at peak efficiency levels, something that involves the creation of HPT (Joy, 1997).

An increase in Life Expectancy at Birth (LEB) has resulted in people retiring at a later age, or changing career paths after retirement, while the younger generations are entering the workforce; therefore, businesses are facing the challenges of integrating people from four different generations through collaborative work, in teams. In order to become effective, teams cannot be assembled without thought. The basic rules and principles that will determine duties and rights of teams and team members should be established early on (Faiks, 1993).

Organizations that incorporate a diverse workforce, specifically based on different generations, face both challenges and opportunities. The challenges have most frequently been analyzed highlighting the differences in values, the ways of working, and other aspects that can create conflict and reduce productivity. Still, more recently, studies have been focusing on the importance of diversity in the workforce. The most valuable outcomes of having different generations working together includes continuous learning in organizations, something that has been proven to positively influence organizational culture and climate.

A multigenerational workforce enriches the working environment by providing a wider range of knowledge and expertise, different ways to approach problems and work, and additional skills and perspectives (Swanson, 2018). Regardless of the generational stereotypes, all people search for meaningful work experiences, and common ground can be found based on valuable things in the job that can be used to build stronger relationships. Each generation brings unique attitudes, career goals and work ethics to the workplace; and every age bracket has the potential to contribute to organizational success.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Productivity: The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

Workforce: The people engaged in, or available for work, either in a country or area or in a particular firm or industry.

High Performance: Designed to perform to a high standard.

Team: Two or more people working together.

Business School: A high-level educational institution in which students study subjects relating to business and commerce, such as economics, finance and management.

Perception: The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

Multigenerational: Relating to several generations.

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