Thursday, April 23, 2020

Generation Why Not: A New Way to Lead and Get the Most Out of Our Inter-Generational Workforce

Guest post from Ruth Klein:

Much has been written about generational tension in the workplace. As is often the case, the tension stems from a fundamental misunderstanding.  And, like most misunderstandings, perception issues and a lack of communication are at the very heart of it. As leaders, we have to understand what’s true about those we lead. Believing a misconception will keep us from doing our best and that’s not acceptable.  

So, let’s take a look at just one misconception. Baby Boomers complain that Millennials are too high maintenance, they need a lot of attention, and they only want to do work that is part of their overall life mission and purpose. Perhaps all of that is true, but, as it turns out it’s not just true of Millennials, or Boomers or Gen X’ers. It’s true for every demographic. Who among us does this not describe?   

Actually, The Boomers, Gen X’ers and The Millennials have more in common than they think.

For example, The Baby Boomers today are changing careers, doing the things they’ve always wanted to do and starting second and third acts, and they have the health and the time to do them, unlike the generation of Traditionalists before them. Generation X’ers are also changing careers as often as necessary to find fulfillment and grow. Boomers see this as a lack of stability and commitment in Millennials. But, the fact is, Boomers are the ones that started this trend, way back in the Sixties. Maybe they’ve forgotten and that’s understandable. It’s been a while.   

There are other similarities and commonalities among all three—Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials:

·         - They all are suspicious of authority.

·         - They are highly educated.

·         - They have high job expectations.

·         - The environment is very important to them…the Baby Boomers started the hippie movement with their green thumbprint and environmental advocacy.

·         - Baby Boomers started sharing a lot of enlightenment and spirituality in their youth…similar to what Millennials are doing now.

·         - Both want to have a big impact to make this a better community and world.

·         - They are extremely loyal to their children.

·        -  Personal gratification is important
It becomes apparent then that age and gender, the old demographic lenses we used to look through, are no longer clear or helpful measurements to be used by businesses and consumers, managers and staff, founders, innovators, and creatives. It is clear that something else is going on in business and personal development. If we “see” the workforce and ourselves through the lens of being a Millennials or a Boomer then that is likely what we’ll receive while they’re working with us.

It’s often said by Baby Boomers that Millennials need a lot of attention and the fact is, most people that want to do a good job (particularly perfectionists) do need a lot of attention. That’s not a demographic issue, that’s a human issue. High performers have lots of questions about everything and they want to know more. They want all the information on anything they undertake so as to give them the best chance to succeed.   

This New Demographic Shift helps businesses expand their creativity and fosters innovation and problem-solving on a large scale without consideration of age, gender, but rather, driven by a mindset and heart-centered model of seeing the person as they are…not as a Baby Boomer, Millennial, etc.

So, who is prospering in the middle of all of this inter-generational chaos and conflict? A new generation that I call Generation Why Not?® is figuring out that the roadblocks in their way are movable if only they will change their context and discard the conventional wisdom about what is possible and by whom it can be done. This new socio-statistical population entity believes that great things can be done by anyone, no matter their gender, age or socioeconomic background.

The Generation Why Not?® framework of people’s buying habits and interpersonal communications is based more on their internal traits or their Intentions, Thoughts, Beliefs, and Actions regarding what they want and what they’re doing. They are aware of making their words intentional as they know words matter---both to themselves and with others. Their old beliefs that no longer serve them have been tested, discarded and new, updated beliefs have been adopted; they commit and make decisions; they take inspired action; they take the momentum they create and sustain it; they have an awareness of their environments—from their emotional to their physical environment.

Generation Why Not?® embraces and engages with leaders and high performers by looking at how each older demographic model shares similarities. It is the similarities of these demographic generations that will create company harmony and, as a result, far less employee tension and management turnover, and higher productivity and profits. And, as an extension, the acknowledged similarities will create internal harmony within businesses, families, and communities. We have the opportunity to forge a new way to understand and communicate between these different age groups, focusing on similarities, as well as positive reinforcement and transparency, which are all key leadership core values and qualities.

As leaders, we need to help our inter-generational employees and teams figure out how to get past their biases and pre-conceived notions and begin to work together and understand each other. It’s doable, and it’s time.

 Ruth Klein, brand strategist and productivity coach for CEO’s, entrepreneurs and sales teams and the author of the upcoming book, Generation Why Not? 7 Principles to a Purposeful Business & Life, Driven by Attitude, Not Age.”  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great write up, Ruth. I lead a team with some who fall into all of these categories. As a millennial, I don't understand the stigma with other age groups and vice versa. We have way more to learn from one another than we know and if we take a moment to listen we can produce more good than ever. Best, Jonathan.