Bob is a dapper gentleman. This morning he begins his day at the office the same way he has for the last forty-two years: He walks over to his desk, hangs up his coat, rolls up his sleeves and opens his notebook to a fresh page.
A red light on his phone blinks demandingly, but he doesn’t notice it. The voicemail is from Helen, an Office Assistant determined to confirm three remaining RSVPs to this afternoon’s meeting. So far she has only heard from Jan, an executive regularly noted for early arrival – and late departure.
The communal coffee pot is ready for a third brew when Ryan, the newest college hire, declines Helen’s invitation via e-mail. “I’ll be telecommuting all week, but if you ping me on Skype I’d be happy to virtually attend,” his message reads. Meanwhile, Bob is finishing up the written task he started this morning and, if Helen is lucky, will finally notice the blinking light.
Chances are you’ve experienced a similar scene.
For the first time in history our workforce is composed of four different generations. The need to collaborate is tremendous, but attempts are often stymied by different experiences and mindsets. It can make for a messy and sometimes chaotic environment, but within this hodgepodge of generational diversity lies a considerable opportunity.
Think of it this way: Each generation’s approach to working has its own unique advantages. If we learn to recognize and champion them, we will improve the way we work as a team. More importantly, by weaving together the best of each age, we can foster a system for managing change.
Technology is evolving faster than ever. And yes, productivity requires adaptation, but it’s by encouraging a sense of comprehension among employees that will enable them to adapt consistently. After all, a business can’t run solely on newborn chicks. Stability requires the wisdom of the ages.
Naturally, then, step one in this journey is to understand the sum of its parts. Over the next couple of months we’ll be examining the styles, needs and challenges associated with each working age – Pre-Boomers; Baby Boomers; Gen X; Millennial — and sharing our findings here with you.
In the end we hope a rethinking of how we work and why we value each other will ultimately both attract and retain a healthy balance of talent in your organization.