Recently I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful conference in San Antonio. Besides visiting the infamous site of the Alamo, I also had the amazing opportunity to hear Patrick Lencioni, best-selling author and Founder of The Table Group, give the keynote for this event.
His talk was inspiring, informational and entertaining; more to come on the great nuggets of his talk. When he concluded he opened up the floor for questions. A gentleman stood up and asked about the impact of millennials in the workforce. Patrick’s response was priceless; let me give you a little background as to why I found his response particularly refreshing.
I happen to be on the cutoff between Generation X and the dubbed Millennial generation, so depending on what chart you’re looking at, I straddle both. There have definitely been times when our generation has been labeled with traits that I don’t embrace and actually repel, such as, having a sense of entitlement, being self-absorbed, wasteful and greedy. I take offense to those, wouldn’t you? It bugged me that such blanketed statements were handed out based on the year you were born.
Back to Patrick’s response… “I’m so tired of hearing about the Millennials! Give them a job, if it doesn’t work, fire them.” The room erupted in laughter and so did I! He elaborated, “Tell me more about their personality traits, their strengths, who they are as individuals and then we can learn something meaningful about them.” Finally! Someone said out loud what I had always thought and felt!
Why do we insist on lumping people together in broad categories? Putting people in “buckets” is a mistake, it creates more division and focuses on our differences as a broader workplace community, which is counterproductive to collaboration. You’ve probably heard that we can be unstoppable if we feel connected to a cause, this is true for me, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as true for a baby boomer or anyone else.
You can learn a lot more about a person from their individual makeup.
For your Individual Team Members:
Get to know the things about them that truly matter, regardless of what year they were born in.
- Who are they as individuals?
- What are their strengths?
- Who do they partner best with?
- What are their interests?
- What type of rewards motivates them most?
- What are the values that guide their life?
For your Organization:
There is validity to the concern that as baby boomers exit the workforce, there will be an exodus of knowledge and experience that has contributed to the success of many organizations. An organization’s focus should be around identifying solutions to minimize the impact of this reality.
- Is your organization fostering a culture of mentoring and knowledge transfer?
- What is your organization doing to capture the knowledge of key stakeholders?
- How is your organization using this knowledge to incorporate it into your systems and processes?
Rather than focusing on trying to improve your employee engagement and organization’s performance by creating blanket statements about segments of your workforce, invest the time in finding out the answer to the questions posed above, leveraging the information or putting a plan in place to execute on on the missing pieces.