Changing the Generational Conversation
Given the unique generational make-up of our current workforce, workshops and trainings on generational awareness are pretty common. Unfortunately, what’s also common in those workshops are biases, stereotypes, and - however unintentional - discrimination.
When we reduce the generational discussion to, “Millennials are like this, Gen Xers are like this, and Boomers are like that”, we are grossly stereotyping those groups who are often more similar than they are different.
Should we talk about how to manage generational diversity in the workplace? Absolutely! With two large generations sandwiching one half their size, and with the now more rapid retirement of the Baby Boomers, understanding the impact of the shifting organizational make-up is critical. But do we need to make sure we do it in a respectful and meaningful way so as not to invite stereotypes or create unnecessary conflict? Most definitely.
When you talk with your teams about generational considerations, you are talking about diversity. And any time we are talking about issues of diversity – whether it’s generational, ethnic, work style, communication preferences, etc. – we need to help people understand how:
- Their own lens of filter influences their perspectives
- Their approach is similar to and different from others and how
- To recognize, understand and interact with diverse perspectives in a respectful and professional way
- To capitalize on that diversity to strengthen the team and the organization
If we think about how to help people broaden their perspectives and create common ground, as opposed to how to highlight alleged differences, we will help to lead change and change leadership.