Much has been written about challenges of creating a harmonious workplace when it is made up of cross generational people. In my coaching I encounter this with regularity and it’s a similar story each time. Generational divisions can and do detract from organizational success!
The millennials (36 and younger) believe that their approach which includes using all the latest and greatest technological innovations is the best. They believe they account for faster progress and much greater efficiencies with better outcomes. On the other hand, the more senior members of the team be them Generation Xers (ages 37-52) or Baby Boomers (over 52), think the ways in which they have been successful is just fine and that newer and faster does not translate to better. Left unaddressed this dichotomy serves to create dissention among the ranks. This definitely works against the very efficiencies and success that all profess to want and frankly, that the company strives and needs to achieve.
I find that the effective starting place for blurring the lines between age groups begins within the older generational groups. In doing so, it has a very positive way by helping them to sharpen the flexibility of their minds in a way that allows them to consider a different perspective for any and all of its value. Coincidentally I came upon an article written by Sarah Young entitled “6 Techniques to Nurture an Agile Mind”. Her ideas are very compatible with what I often experience. She effectively identifies these realities … and I take some paraphrasing liberties:
- The best approach we can take is to adjust our thinking and change how we perceive the world.
- Today is a time for a new way of thinking as in to deal with the changing landscape and can best happen if and when we observe the view through new eyes.
- Ones’ current mind was perfect for a time when change occurred at a comparatively slow rate yet we have been propelled into a new era.
- By the time we have become accustomed to the change, it has moved on again and we are still left behind … scratching our heads.
- It’s easy for us to bury our heads in the sand and think all will be okay if we just ignore the change. It’s confusing and creates anxiety and uncertainty leaving these folks fearful.
So with these things adopted and accepted here are the steps that enable one to create the open and flexible mind a reality. Shifting ones’ thinking to the present and future will make the focus on ‘how things were done’ become a distant memory and a part of the history books:
The 1st step … acknowledging that the world is changing which will continue to be the case and the conveyor belt of change will move faster and faster. Granted change brings uncertainty and with that endless possibilities, new ideas and technology … all translating to opportunities and breakthroughs
This is the art of bringing your attention and energy to the present moment. When practiced regularly, you can bring your mind to a place where you are so deeply ingrained in your current activity that there is no place for worry about what happened in the past or fear of an imagined future.
- Getting rid of limiting beliefs
Realize that every time you say something negative to yourself, like ‘I can’t cope with this change’, or ‘I’m no good with change’, you are making an affirmation to yourself. Say it enough times and it will turn into a belief. Henry Ford said it perfectly. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!’ It’s our choice as to how we want to face the day and important that we realize that.
- Expanding your comfort zone
The majority of us love our comfort zones. They are relaxing, non-confronting and a great place to hide. However, they can also be unfulfilling, boring and may cause us to get left behind or leave us with a feeling that something is missing in our lives. The key is to get comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable. Once you are comfortable with this concept, start stretching yourself further. Start to become a change-maker, not a change-hater.
- Growth mindset
The growth mindset approach is THE change approach. A growth mindset perceives everything that happens in life, career or business as a learning opportunity. Criticism is viewed as positive feedback, setbacks are a chance to learn new skills and build resilience and new challenges are an opportunity to develop and expand that comfort zone. Effort is the key to build a growth mindset.
- Emotional intelligence (EI)
EI is the practice of recognizing(, understanding and controlling your own emotions and recognizing, understanding and empathizing the emotions of others. EI is one of the quickest ways to bring about personal growth and change. Start to focus on becoming more self-aware by first observing your thoughts (with no judgement). Become more aware of thought patterns that may not be serving you and re-frame them into ones that do.
Actually, accomplishing generational cohesiveness is very achievable. It only takes a desire to want to be a part of a cohesive effort that translates to one’s individual and collective success. The generational standoff that infiltrates too many companies has no positives … for one person or the organization as a whole. Allowing one’s experience and maturity to be front and center delivers only good for all. Are you willing to try? I suggest you pass this along to any whom you believe might benefit and in doing so you may just have helped your organization, yourself and them. Welcome to a better work environment!