I heard a young colleague say, when we were on the road and talking about a “generational” workshop she had been to, “You know, do they [my bosses] really think we’re all a bunch of lazy people?”
This friend is brilliant. She works hard. She is the future of the company. And she happens to be 20-something young.
I believe that generations in the workplace are hugely compatible and can give businesses the innovative, outside-the-box edge that keeps them relevant and sustainable. Millennials have much to teach us Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers, as much as we have to teach them and each other.
Very simply, this is about understanding cultures. Within each culture are expectations and communication challenges. It’s like being in a foreign country.
So when you travel to a foreign country, ask yourself, what would make my experience here most enjoyable?
1. Let go of any assumptions. What might be available to us if we didn’t have to be right? What might we learn? 2. Seek to understand the person. That age old axiom holds true here: What is important to this person? What do they dream about? 3. Seek to understand the culture. Who else does this and why? 4. Forgive yourself. Whoops. Own up to your mistakes and try again. 5. Engage the culture and design your working relationship. What do “we” want?
Easier said than done perhaps. Or perhaps not. But if the cost of grumbling or feeding assumptions that may not be true is creating a misaligned culture, then much more may be at stake for your company.