Why Harmonizing Different Generations Makes Sense

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It seems that there is no organization or team untouched by the challenges of the different generations working along side one another. Much has been written about how frustrated leaders are trying to address the diverse views and attitudes of each.  Inevitably, the topic of work ethic continuously surfaces as a sticky and unresolvable discussion during many of my programs. I say to myself when this happens: “Here we go again. Why can’t we all just get along?”  So much time is wasted in judging and being angry that it appears we have lost sight of finding common ground and collaborating. 

 When we look at the unique strengths that each generation brings to a team, we begin to understand why harmonizing them just makes sense. Without stereotyping, each generation has experienced different cultural events that have impacted their childhood and adolescence. We became adults during different historical and political periods. Those events can actually create certain attitudes. For example: living through a depression may impact how a person thinks about work and money. The key is to pull together and create some new harmonies and tunes that can be embraced together. Here are some ways that may just work for you:

 LISTEN TO EACH OTHER: In the HBO series, The Newsroom, a team of dedicated journalists from Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, GenX and Millennials, collaborate magnificently to produce a fictional news broadcast. Although there are many strong personalities on the show, they spend a great deal of time listening to what each person brings to the newscast. The team members are challenged to be open-minded and listen carefully to the information and sources being shared. If they don’t get the facts right because they interrupt or make assumptions, they will not be able to broadcast accurate and timely news.

 

How many times have we jumped to conclusions because we were unable to stay silent and just listen?  Questions can be posed later, but getting the complete download initially is essential. It gives value to the words and ideas being presented and a belief that what someone has to say has merit.

RESPECT EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS: When collaborating on a team project, the most successful way to achieve a great end result is to leverage each person’s special capabilities. If a Baby Boomer has the institutional wisdom about a client, learn from them. If a Millennial makes a suggestion about redoing the technology, try it. Be open to having each person contribute in the way that showcases his or her talent and interest.

 SHARE THE LEADERSHIP ROLES:  Every team member, regardless of their generation, should be encouraged to step up and lead. When people are empowered to lead, they get the chance to see the issues up close and an opportunity to present their strategies and action plans. Sometimes a different viewpoint can spark innovative steps to take that no one had considered. By volleying that leadership ball around, each team member gets to participate in sending the ball over the net.

How have you and your team worked in harmony with the generations in the workplace? Have you learned from a person from a different generation? Would love to hear your generational stories!

 

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17 thoughts on “Why Harmonizing Different Generations Makes Sense

  1. I loved your post. I especially love that you write about harmony because that is where the magic is….

    If there is openness of the in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.

    If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony within.

    If there is harmony within, there will be excellence of leadership.

    When there is excellence of leadership, there will production at business.

    Great Read!

  2. I agree that when we can harmonize all of our different instruments together, we can create beautiful music.

    Leaders need to send that message and take those actions of love and care for all generations.

    I so appreciate your comments and support, Lolly.

  3. More voices and instruments makes the song more interesting and dynamic! When it’s just one note all the time, the song ultimately falls flat – the same holds true in the workplace.

    I can’t help but thinking that generational conflict is a symptom of fear. Fear that somehow if they look good, I’ll look bad. Everyone has gifts – finding them and tapping into them that makes the org stronger.

    Harmony can include honest passionate discussion when everyone is focused on the same core vision! That’s a place I’d love to work!

    Great metaphor and post, Terri!

  4. Agree completely, Terri. We all have talents and experiences and we need to leverage them across the generations. It is what will make each leader stronger and lead with a bigger, better story line. We can all carry a different tune, but together it all can work beautifully! Thanks! Jon

  5. Wow, what a wonderful experience that must have been Karin! That would take attentive listening or else the sound would be so off. In the same way, teams need to really listen actively to all the suggestions and try to create the best product using as many contributions from all the different generations. Thanks for adding your wonderful comments!

  6. I agree that there may be an element of fear that one generation might dominate with their ideas and not make room for the rest. If teams could only look at the differences as a positive way to begin brainstorming or exploring ideas rather than making assumptions.

    There is such a need for learning partnerships across the board, where diversity is welcomed and embraced as essential to a successful end result.

    Appreciate your great additions, Alli!

  7. Thanks Lalita and I agree that it should be a human requirement to listen and not judge because people come from places and times we might not be familiar.
    Working towards the same goal and drawing upon one another’s gifts, is such a winning choice.

  8. We do carry a different tune sometimes, yet when we are willing to listen to one another and respect the ideas being offered as viable, we will accomplish much more interesting outcomes.

    Leaders can model inclusion and help their teams form learning partnerships to help them grow.

    Thanks Jon!

  9. Terri, Your points are very well taken. Listening is such a powerful skill which anyone can learn and improve. I continue to sharpen my listening skills and even my wife loves that.

    Acknowledging and recognizing the strengths of others is a great way to build a high performance team. Every has different strengths and talents. Celebrating and leveraging those strengths is the Leaders job.

  10. We all could be stronger listeners but when we do work on that skill, please really do notice. I think this generational divide needs to be first validated through awareness and understanding. Being open to different work patterns is so helpful as is recognizing talents that we each bring to the table. It may be an important job for leaders to leverage those strengths, I just think sometimes they are not skilled at doing it. But it is something that can be learned for sure.
    Thanks Dan!

  11. Great article, Terri! You make a great point…teams need to find ways to work together instead of focusing on our differences. I’m really tired of reading how millennials are different, or how certain generations have different values…

    Instead, we need to focus on what we have in common and ways we can work together. Enough energy spent on the negative impact, already! Lets work together just like hundreds of other inter generational teams have done in the past.

  12. You said it perfectly, LaRae- let’s work together! We need to focus on collaboration and respecting our different viewpoints.

    Let’s find common ground and play to our strengths!

    Thanks!

  13. I so agree, Chery! I have a formula for teamwork: 1+1=3. We can accomplish more working together than one person doing things alone.

    Thanks for your great additions and stopping by!

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