Grandma leans in close to whisper life's greatest secret, "Honey, treat all other 'young ladies' like Grandma, just as if they were your grandma as well." She leaned back into her rocker satisfied and might as well have dropped the mic before exiting the stage.
That was it. Life's greatest secret was randomly dropped in my lap and left for me to process as a young teenager. Was it respect? Was my grandma wanting me to honor my elders?
Generational Differences Bridge Gaps
While my grandma only shared just a short line of wisdom, it has carried weight into all my relationships long after she has passed. In a world of inclusion and equality, the true value to diversity might still be missing. Diversity has too much value to try and equalize everything. If we try too hard we may miss the unique value each person brings to a relationship, organization, business, and team.
Don't get me wrong, equality is important. Inclusion is absolutely needed. However, leveling the playing field too much could be a recipe for disaster. Diversity has its strongest power when uniqueness is leveraged to bring big picture equality. The equality in purpose, mission, and values on a large scale, diversifies each supporting part for further development.
I later realized my grandma was sharing the value of respecting, honoring, and leveraging diversity. While all mankind is equal, everyone is not equal. Respect, honor, and leverage each person's unique attributes to signify their importance. Know people and their differences to bridge together strong relationships.
Generational differences need bridges to be linked together in order for a strong overarching development to happen.
Generational Differences in the Workplace
While baby boomers and millennials continue to fight for their stronghold in the workplace, generation Xers get tired of the conversation and conflict. Millennials are no longer the young kid on campus anymore either. Generation Z is entering the workforce and a new wave a consulting on the new generation has begun.
We are now seeing five different generations occupy the workforce and companies are trying to figure out how to build multi-generational teams that work together. Forget working together though, businesses need the generations to grow together and succeed together.
Go With the Differences
As a former baseball coach, I continually taught my players how to hit with the pitch thrown. Hitting is all about adapting to different pitches and adjusting in a split second. Hitters can't fight against a pitch, but rather go with the pitch. Going with a pitch allows hitters to work with and off the pitch thrown.
Teams in the workplace need to be able to adapt and adjust to the differences in generations. Teams need to go with the pitches thrown. Businesses do not need to change people, but teach them the tools and abilities to leverage their differences for the greater good of the team.
For example, businesses do not only need accountants in their business. They need other team members as well. Let's pull this back for one second. Even if your business is an accounting firm, you will want different types of personalities as accountants. Teams need diversity. The differences allow teams to uniquely be leveraged as difference makers.
The Differences Are the Keys to Success
Do not run from the differences in generations or even personalities, but use differing view points, experiences, and gifts to make your team uniquely amazing. Equalize the team as a whole in purpose, mission, and values, but do not equalize each team member. Not everyone needs to understand what baby boomers are amazing at. Generation Xers will bring a whole different market to your team. Millennials will bring to the table a unique skill set as well. Do not be fearful of the diversity and differences of each team member, but leverage it further to develop your team, department, organization, and business.
Having five different generations working together uniquely will position your business for an area of success that you might have not been preparing for. Embrace it and leverage it, do not resist it.
Roll with the differences and pitches. Your new found success is right around the corner.
Jared Buckley helps Millennials develop their skills for success, purpose, and impact. He believes true development comes through experience, environment, and expectations. You can read more at JaredBuckley.com.