People have to learn to create “brave spaces” to have the skills and courage to engage in uncomfortable crucial conversations and emerge with understanding and resolutions that unite. Intergroup Dialogue is a specific form of communication especially designed for people to communicate across differences, in a critical and meaningful way.
Orientation is a crucial step in achieving engagement and productivity and is often given short shrift. Even if it is more robust, it’s worthwhile every year or two to evaluate the success factors and gaps toward fulfilling goals, welcoming new generations and integrating the older and the newer.
It’s not surprising if managing people of any age or generation significantly older than you is uncomfortable on both sides. Nevertheless all ages need to find ways to thrive within this context as it becomes more prevalent with three to five generations in the workplace.
The formative influences on an individual or a segment of the population that may lead to significant patterns of behavior are fascinating to contemplate for their wider implications. A Wall Street Journal article by Lisa Ward with the provocative title “How to Create a Narcissist,” reports research findings on the influence on personal traits and attitudes, satisfaction with work and the amount of top management pay when coming of age in a weak or strong economy.
Despite some of the media hype, about the divide between Millennials and their older colleagues at work, forging common ground is not a hopeless task or an expensive one. It does require willingness of both parties to address perceptions and stereotypes and engage in open conversation. I offer some advice for both Gen Y/Millennials and their managers.
The message from the professionals to young workers and students continues to be work hard, persevere, reach out, and you do have to “pay your dues.”
At the Conversations in Journalism conference recently at Columbia University, two panels were particularly relevant for cross-generational perspectives, and the views are applicable way beyond the media industries.