Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

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Case Study for Resolving Inter-Generational Team Issues


A client team was composed of a Generation X partner-level leader, a Baby Boomer partner-level manager, and younger Gen X and Gen Y associates/staff. In essence an older manager was reporting to a younger leader with less experience. There were some obvious and underlying tensions that got in the way of producing “better and faster.”

In speaking with them separately, here's what each thought or felt:

The Boomer manager thought:

* The leader was less thorough in approach than he was used to.
* She didn't communicate down very much to let her team know what was happening and how it fit into firm strategy.
* She didn't call on the manager's experience.
* She didn't involve the managers and staff/associates in generating ideas.

The Gen X leader thought:

* The manager dismissed new ideas (“We tried that before.” “It always worked when we did it this way.”).
* The manager didn't give strong support to the ideas the leader chose to implement.
The Gen Y associates/staff asked “why” about each decision from the leader and manager, and both thought they were being challenged by associates with limited experience who ought to be pleased with the opportunity to learn and take orders. However, the Gen Yers needed the “why's” and “how's” and expectations to be spelled out clearly in detail, which took away the partner manager's time from “producing.”

To summarize, the ISSUES AND CHALLENGES were:

* Older reporting to younger
* Differing communication and management styles
* Not feeling respected
* Perceived lack of work ethic and challenging authority
* Lack of necessary engagement and stimulation because what team members were asked to do wasn't related to overall goals and a vision of meaningful results.
* Autonomy vs. collaboration


* We held a briefing and brainstormed on the group's goals within the firm's strategy, project goals, expectations and performance goals.
* We obtained buy-in to the goals.
* I facilitated a discussion on what would make the team work more effectively - a future-oriented "Appreciative Inquiry" approach rather than dwelling on past history and assigning blame.
* We outlined and agreed on expectations for commitment and results.
* We took the DiSC behavioral style assessment to raise awareness of each person's behavioral style strengths and what flexing of personal styles was needed for better rapport and collaboration.
* We identified and agreed on roles and tasks for each team member based on talents, interests and interpersonal skills and agreement to accountability.
* We explored how a "mutual mentoring" process could be used to help each member grow as needed in technical skills, interact with clients' and each other's personal styles and increase awareness of how one is perceived by the rest of the firm and clients.


Immediate: Team members became more relaxed; tension level went down; there was a more positive attitude coming to work.
Longer-range: The firm and teams had a workable process for improving productivity, work satisfaction and mutual respect.

If your organization or team is experiencing frustrations or energy-sucking tensions along generational lines, give me a no obligation call to see how our insights, expertise and processes can decrease the stress as well as increase productivity and retention.

Please continue to send your thoughts, comments and stories my way.



© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2008. All rights reserved.

Check out *Next Generation, Next Destination*, our blog about transitioning planning and the generations. Visit, comment and subscribe by RSS feed or e-mail.

For coaching, training and special programs on inter-generational relations and maximizing the potential of young professionals, call Phyllis for an exploratory talk or complimentary coaching session at 212-593-1549. See and We also provide *Next Generation, Next Destination* transitioning planning programs and services for baby boomer senior professionals and their firms.

Phyllis is available to speak at your organization or at firm retreats on inter-generational relations and organizational effectiveness topics. Call or e-mail for a list of topics or to custom-tailor your own.