Eight Ways to Succeed With an Intergenerational Workforce

Blog Post A Culture that Fuels Our Strategy

There are now five generations working together in the corporate world. That’s a huge deal, and, unless you’re between ages 26-40, there’s more of them than there are of you. Lindsey Pollak addresses this world in her book: “The Remix: How to Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace.” Her starting premise is good advice for people of all ages: human beings are more alike than different; what changes between the generations are the preferences and resources available to fulfill needs and expectations (of both employers and employees). She has identified these suggestions for a re-mix to be successful:

  1. Stop generational shaming. The way things are today is nothing new: we were all once young and rebellious and we will one day (if not already so) all experience being old and stodgy.
  2. Empathize. Yeah, this is one we forgot somewhere along the way. To empathize is to understand and share the feelings of another. Do this with those younger than you, and older than you. But do it with those around your age as well, especially when you two do not experience things the same way.
  3. Assume the best intentions. Not every single person is here to make things better, but it’s a fair summary that nearly all of us are here to do a good job, to leave things in better shape than we found them. For example, when someone pushes back on ‘why do we do it that way’ if you look for it you can easily find their commitment is to make things better, not to tear things down.
  4. Think ‘And’ instead of ‘Or.’ If this one doesn’t make sense, she’s saying be inclusive.
  5. Remember that common sense isn’t so common. The term ‘common sense’ translates for most people to be ‘something everyone understands’ or ‘a practical approach or reasoning.’ Think about social media and the different ways, in general, at least, people from Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, or Gen Z approach social media. What is ‘common sense’ about how to interact with and leverage social media? If this doesn’t make sense, see point #2.
  6. Don’t change what works. Fundamentals, Pollak says, are more important than ever. In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complexity, ambiguity), there is value in maintaining what works. Changing simply for change’s sake isn’t smart, but building in agility is.
  7. Be more transparent. Information is no longer power (that phrase is a fun one to Google). Information is available, it’s the thinking in the background that is critical. Sharing your thinking with others helps them to understand and see where you’re coming from. Everyone likes to be able to know where the ship is headed as they do their part, whether paddling or trimming the sails.
  8. It’s okay if everyone wins. Pollak says trophies for trophies’ sake isn’t the idea, it’s acknowledging accomplishment. The former diminishes the value of accomplishment, one could say, while appreciating success helps breed more success. The question is how to adapt and flex so everyone can contribute and be a part of a winning team.

A summary of Pollak’s book is available at https://lindseypollak.com/the-remix-book. Please enjoy.

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