I’ve been facilitating cross-generational dialogues for over ten years. I started them because I was tired of one-dimensional conversations filled with bias and wrong assumptions about people who were older or younger. After the first three sessions, it was clear to me that we have a lot to learn from each other. Cross-generational mentoring became an integral part of my inclusive leadership coaching process
People who participate in my cross-generation dialogues are always surprised at the connections they make with people a lot younger or a lot older. They find new ways to collaborate as whole people with multiple identities.
For perhaps the first time in the post-industrial organization we have four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. The increasing diversity resulting from this mix of generations, coupled with an increased mix of cultures, is forcing a seminal shift in both personal and organizational world views. As Millennial expert Lindsey Pollack recently put it: “Stereotypes are silly for lots of reasons, the key one being how quickly they can change given history and context. Years ago it was those hippie Baby Boomers stirring up trouble, and now it’s the “entitled” Millennials overtaking the workplace. Of course, no generation is one monolithic group of people who all behave exactly the same way. So why are we so hung up on generations in the first place? It’s actually important to consider what makes them tick…. In my opinion, learning about people’s different potential identity markers can be a helpful way to better interact with each other. And members of each generation do have traits that differentiate them — a combination of characteristics largely based on the circumstances in which each cohort came of age.”
From the earliest blogs and profiles on Millennials – and there have been thousands – they were described as the anti-formal generation. Popular images painted them as innovating from Starbucks and boycotting performance reviews. No rigid flex options, no packages of stale annual feedback for them.
Times and preferences change. Millennials are quickly becoming the workplace norm, not the newbies. Many seek advancement rather than “job hopping.” This adventurous cohort is forming families in earnest, and with record percentages of dual earner couples. They face challenges that are both considerable and growing.
“I am a Generation Y. ” This statement seems harmless enough, until you find yourself planted in a room full of baby boomers fed up with the millennials, the whiney, egocentric, group of fickle youngsters filing into the newly unstructured world of work. We are the facebookers, the job-hoppers, the demanders and questioners who want a raise NOW with a company car and a key to the executive washroom. Never mind that we’ve only been working for two months. True, the Y generation may be a bit spoiled and tend to expect rewards somewhat prematurely, but we do have a few good traits that could encourage you to work with generation differences.