If you’ve been following our backchats at all, you know that we often tackle thorny issues. None is thornier than discussing generational issues, especially millennials vs. boomers.
My GTA colleagues brought up a recent article I published on LinkedIn on this very topic. I think the most pressing challenge we face when working together is how we relate to each other, which is critical for any meaningful collaboration to take place. There are cultural issues relative to power distance and status and it can be challenging when one is old enough to be someone’s grandparent to see that person as an individual, not a child.
A quick Google search on boomers vs. millennials turns up articles like these:
To be fair, there were also articles like:
It’s not unfrequent to hear a lot of worrying and hand wringing from my boomer peers. But, as a someone who has experienced ageist attitudes across the spectrum of generations, I think my generation often has the most dismal perspective on aging.
What I’ve personally experienced from millennials is a lot of respect, perhaps because grandparents have played a huge role in their lives.
In my case, I was fortunate to unexpectedly give birth to one of these bright beings when I was 43, my personal millennial culture coach! Working on my masters degree a few years ago with peers in their early twenties also helped.
Here are a few ways HR and organizational leaders can work to create a harmonic generational convergence;
- Create opportunities for team work, collaboration, and knowledge sharing through peer based relationships.
- Assign teams a small project that requires problem solving.
- Don’t put someone in charge. Let them sort it out. Most importantly, make sure the older ones don’t “assume” a leadership mantle. Leadership will emerge naturally.
- Keep the teams diverse and small, 3-5 at most.
- Don’t look over their shoulders, but have frequent communications and give support.
While nothing lasts forever, smart organizations will work to leverage this strategic inflection point and synthesize the knowledge, skills and experience of all generations.
For individuals looking for ways to navigate their organizations, I’ve developed a 5 week audio course The Corner Office Guide.
For organizations who want to create inclusive cultures, I am launching a generational silo breaking program, Innovate BIG℠. For more information, contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.