New Dog – Old Tricks – Generational Understanding in the Workforce
written by Pati Root
Have you ever noticed how people in similar age groups tend to hang together? They are able to “relate” and have common life areas, such as kids, soccer, and even ambitions. I’ll visit an office and hear about a boy’s trip to Vegas and the same group talking about their challenges and gleaning advice from each other. What I don’t see is the inclusion of older males with younger males.
On a personal level, that’s a big so what. From a business view, it could be a huge deal!
There are four generations in the workforce today: Traditionalist (born before 1942), Boomers (born 1943 – 1964), Gen X’ers (born 1965-1976), and finally, the Millennials (born 1977 – 1997).
Technology plays a big part in how companies do business today verses how they did 15 years ago, but some processes just don’t change. Customers still are king. Understanding customer needs and providing appropriate solutions that help them accomplish their business objectives is still a sales organizations main purpose.
For illustration purposes only, pretend the generations are a family unit: Grandpa, Dad and Teenage Son. When the TV needs to be programed who do we ask to do the programing? When you get a new mobile phone, who do you ask to install your email account? When the hot water heater leaks, who do you ask for advice? What about when your wife comes to you and tells you she found a lump, who do you turn to just share how you feel? And when you hit the wall and don’t know what your next step is, who do you turn to?
Not any one generation truly knows all things. It takes all generations to balance it out, sharing knowledge, experiences, history, skill sets, new ideas, old ideas, and even attitude balance. Bonding between generations does not come naturally. Be open to sharing, and aware of how your words may be perceived. Few people like to be told what to do or feel judged of their actions. Generations can share best practices and achieve a common goal when they find common communication styles and practices. Take advantage of all that every generation your work place has to offer. The result – improved customer satisfaction, increased closed deals, accomplished goals, and new knowledge.
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