Generations

By 2020 there will be five generations of leaders in the workplace.

The oldest generation in the workplace, the Traditionalists, were born between 1900 and 1945. They were told by their parents that they were to be seen and not heard. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II and truly understand what it means to persevere during tough times. Traditionalists consider work a privilege, which may lead to why they’re not afraid of long hours and expect the same of others.

The youngest generation in the workplace, Gen Z, was born after 1997. They are extremely technologically advanced, absorbing tons of new information daily. Generation Z does not rely on their parents as much as previous generations as technology has made it possible for them to start working at an earlier age than their parents.

The drastic differences among these generations can create a competitive advantage if we take the time to transform how we connect, lead, develop and manage.

“Innovation comes ultimately from a diversity of perspectives. So when you combine ideas from different industries or different cultures, that’s when you have the best sense of developing groundbreaking ideas.” – Frans Johansson

 

The Medici Effect

In 2004 Frans Johansson published The Medici Effect, an exploration of why robust innovation happens at the “intersection” where ideas from diverse cultures, disciplines, and industries collide. He highlights that “all new ideas are a combination of existing ideas.”

The intersection of generations in the workplace is exactly where opportunity resides. However, there are some generational assumptions to be avoided and some uncomfortable truths to confront.

Generational Assumptions

  1. Traditionalists are technologically incapable.
  2. Boomers are micro-managers.
  3. Gen X’ers are slackers.
  4. Millennials need constant praise and think everyone deserves a trophy.
  5. Gen Z’ers rather spend time on their phone than experience real life.

Uncomfortable Truths

  1. Everyone is sick of generational assumptions.
  2. Employees from all generations aren’t sure they understand their company’s strategy.
  3. All generations want to improve the customer experience.
  4. All generations understand the need to make technological advancements, but their organizations are slow to implement new technology.
  5. Having multiple generations in the workplace is an asset, not a liability.

So how do you connect, lead, develop and manage five generations? After assuring that they all understand your strategy, a good place to start would be with a defined purpose and common objective. Once the goal is established, focus on what each individual does well and don’t make assumptions about which generations will contribute what to the goal. Look for individuals from different generations who have common interests and pair them together to work towards a solution. Allow them to find the intersection of their ideas.

Thoughtstarter

Where have you experienced the intersection of ideas between multiple generations that created, or will create, a decidedly more impactful outcome for your project or company?

How will you engage the views of multiple generations to eliminate blind spots in your approach and/or decisions?

Be authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your answers to today’s Thoughtstarters in the comments.