The Inter-Generational Executive
Quite often, Human Resources professionals call VIM Executive Coaching and ask if we have a series of classes on teaching Boomers and Gen-X employees to “get along better” with Millennial employees. The question may come from an entrepreneurial organization, nonprofit association or more traditional companies. Our answer is typically the same: “Sorry, no we don’t.” “But,” the HR professionals stammer, “everyone is doing it. You’re missing a huge opportunity.”
We don’t think so
With all due respect, at VIM Executive Coaching we often shake our heads at the well-intentioned mindset that seems to want to place employees in different categories simply because of age or generational differences. It is troubling because what we all have in common as people is far more important than our differences.
While we would not expect someone who is aged 60 to love the same music, entertainment or even food and drink as someone who is 26 (of course, we’re always surprised!), the reason there is often a breakdown in communication is more a question of authenticity than style.
It is not that Millennials and Boomers cannot talk to one another, it is much more a matter of not listening. An older employee might frequently be accused of an immediate an unreasonable reaction rather that a thoughtful response. Older executives and younger employees typically clash when there is a failure to understand situations in an absence of kindness, empathy and compassion. By being mindful, rather than reactive, executives and entrepreneurs and those they manage, can reach a level of greater authenticity with one another. If a conflict presents itself in the workplace, far better to resolve it by a response to the situation than a reaction founded in anger or suspicion.
How did we come to this?
It is not that inter-generational issues have appeared on the scene for the first time in history, it is just that there is an “obsession” many of us seem to have with understanding the Millennial. It is as though Millennials have appeared in the workplace after being beamed down to earth from a distant galaxy!
We must understand that each new generation to appear in the workforce is different than the generation to precede it, but that does not mean that each generation is uniform and homogeneous. There are always variations within each group, no matter the age or generation, and there are always similarities.
Obviously, Millennials have been highly influenced by technology and even remote working patterns. However, even Boomers and Gen-Xers have been broadly influenced by technology. Team versus individual approaches are apparent in all groups but they should also be celebrated rather than shunned.
To manage effectively and to be better leaders, we need to better know ourselves, our inner feelings, our outer surroundings and to be mindful of how we influence others. This can apply equally to a Boomer managing a Millennial or Gen-X employee, or as happens more and more frequently, the other way around.
It is one of the many reasons that VIM Executive Coaching wants to focus our training on concepts and practices such as mindfulness meditation. In understanding ourselves and in more fully understanding our roles as leaders, we can better relate to everyone in our organization, both younger and older.
There are dozens of books, workbooks, podcasts and courses on “relating to others,” but ultimately, there is only one of you. Our goal is to help you celebrate all of the great things you can bring about as a leader by responding to the opportunities in front of you.