Tag Archives: generations

Sticking Points

By Mike Weiler

Recently my team read “Sticking Points,” by Haydn Shaw because we noticed our workforce contained members from all four generations:

  • Born before 1945 – Traditionalists.
  • Born 1946-1964 – Baby Boomers.
  • Born 1965-1980 – Gen Xers.
  • Born 1981-2001 – Millennials.

The book helped our team understand the 12 different sticking points that can pull the generations apart or together:

  1. Communication – What is the best way to interact with my coworkers?
  2. Decision making – How do we decide what to do?
  3. Dress code – How casually can I dress?
  4. Feedback – How often and in what ways do I want input?
  5. Fun at work – How much fun at work is allowed?
  6. Knowledge transfer – How do we pass on critical knowledge to new employees?
  7. Loyalty – When is it okay to move on?
  8. Meetings – What should happen in our meetings?
  9. Policies – Are policies rules or guidelines?
  10. Respect – How do I get others to respect me?
  11. Training – How do I learn best?
  12. Work ethic – How many hours are required, and when must I work them?

Many people try to think of ways to solve the challenges of these sticking points. The key discussed in the book is not to look at them as problems that need to be solved, but as areas of strength to be leveraged for the benefit of the team. We can only truly lead people when we stop trying to change who they are and start to appreciate them for who they are, and we can’t do that until we understand them.

Sticking Points does a great job giving the reader background on the events that created each generation. Even though 1945 wasn’t that long ago, learning the history of the events of the time and how they shaped the work environment is eye-opening for readers of all generations.  Remember, we are reading to understand each other and to do that, we need to understand the events that surrounded our upbringing–the book calls these “ghost stories.” Here is an example of the ghost stories that shaped the Traditionalists:

  1. The Great Depression–The Great Depression made the Traditionalists more economically conservative, and that conservatism spread to other areas of their life.
  2. World War II–Traditionalist learned  to sacrifice their individuality for a cause and learned to listen to authority and take orders.
  3. Moving from the farm to the city–The farm life gave the Traditionalists the strongest work ethic of any of the generations; if they didn’t do the work, the job didn’t get done.
  4. Mass marketing and confidence in experts–The golden age of radio (1920-1940) was also the start of mass marketing. Thanks to the elements mentioned above, the Traditionalists connected and trusted the guidance of experts.  They didn’t question doctors or lawyers, and many still don’t today.

It is important that each generation understands the other generations’ ghost stories and how they shaped that generation. At that moment, the generations can see how they connect to each other and start to leverage each other’s strengths.

Of course, there is still tons that can be written in this article about this topic, but I would encourage you to purchase this book and have your team read it with you.  It is a really great experience if you are able to get a few different generations in one room and discuss the ghost stories and learn how to come together.  Each generation brings value to the team, and the quicker your organization is able to capitalize on it, the better for you, your team, and the organization.

Check out Sticking Points and start getting unstuck.

Mike Weiler is director of sales for Rydin.

Where Do We Go from Here?

By Julius E. Rhodes, SPHR

HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) has come a mighty long way, but we still need to do more. Most millennials are already a part of our workforce—in fact, millennials are the biggest segment of the U.S. labor force. The oldest members of Gen­eration Z are starting their careers now, while baby boomers continue to make their retreat. We must keep in mind that our ability to be successful will require us to repre­sent the interests of the people we serve. At the end of the day, it’s people that matter.

Designing a culture, addressing the climate, and being obsessive about ensuring organizational pro­cesses are all critical. I see the correlation between climate and culture as an iceberg: What is beneath the surface of the water is much more expansive than what we see above. Climate is what we see above the water level, but culture (beneath the water) will re­quire us to do some very real and hard work.

Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said, “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

Establishing Balance

What will it take to accomplish this feat? In a word, balance—between the instrumental approach to HR, which emphasizes the pure business objectives, and a humanistic approach, which is more broadly focused on concern for people and the business.

It doesn’t matter how we arrived where we are today. Whether you are a boomer, millennial, a mem­ber of Gen Z, or any other designation, we’re all in this together, and our ability to connect and support each other is essential to our success. We need to remember that while our age might place us in a cer­tain demographic category, that category is not the be-all and end-all regarding how we see ourselves and how we identify and associate with others.

The common thinking is that millennials don’t save or aren’t loyal to an organization. The common think­ing is that baby boomers aren’t tech savvy or that they lack creativity. I say hogwash—all we need to do is identify one millennial who is an astute investor or has designs on staying with a firm or one baby boom­er who not only knows technology but was an early adopter, and the common thinking goes out the door.

If you are like me and many others, you certainly know people whose ability to relate and identify with other generations places them in a different realm than the one in which they were born.

Where we go from here depends on a few things. HR can lead the charge, but it cannot be solely re­sponsible for its ultimate success. Success always requires a team effort. Here are the areas we must all rally around:

  • Engaging others, networking, and emotional intelligence.
  • Moving from employee to intrapreneur (some­one who promotes innovative development and marketing).
  • Using your personal brand to influence others.

Emotional Intelligence

As we think about the future, we hear a lot of talk about augmented reality and artificial intelligence, but it is emotional intelligence that will drive our ability to develop effective networks and engage others. Without going into a technical dissertation, emotional

intelligence operates in two primary domains: self-competence and social competence. Self-competence means self-awareness and self-management. Social competence means social awareness and relationship management. Not only are these areas of self-discovery, but if we are able to master them, they will allow us to help move our team members from being employees to having a more vested interest in our operations.

Your Brand

I’ve spoken a great deal about personal branding and have written a book and workbook on the topic. Having a consistent personal brand is paramount to put people at ease and connect to us. A consistent personal brand will either bring people to you or push them away; no matter how good we believe we are, we all need advocates. Just because we are successful today doesn’t mean we will continue to be so tomor­row, especially if we lose sight of the most important aspect of our existence: the people we work with and through to accomplish our objectives.

Achieving the balance I spoke of earlier may well be the tipping point for HR and our organizations. If we are to continue to move forward and be the best, we must be that for each other and those we serve.

Read the article here.

JULIUS E. RHODES, SPHR, is founder and principal of the mpr group and author of BRAND: YOU Personal Branding for Success in Life and Business. He can be reached at jrhodes@mprgroup.info or 773.548.8037.