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Managing Across the Generations

Posted by Jay Dziwlik, MBA, CAE on Aug 31, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Recently at my association the idea came up to change a long-standing program. I focused on being sensitive enough to hear the different generations respond to the idea. 


Traditionalist: “Why change? This has been a program with a history of success. This has been tried several years ago and was disruptive.”

Baby Boomer: “This will upset several other members and change the process we use today.”

Gen X: “Leaders should have changed this years ago. My plate is full.”

Millennial: “How can we form a fun team to work on this?”


Why can’t everybody just think the same way I do? Then it dawns on me what kind of apocalyptic picture of the future if everybody was just another “Jay.” Oh no, we have made a horrible error. It does not take that long to realize that is not the way we want to go. Differences are the soul of our power as a staff but it unfortunately requires work and perseverance to get the differences of generations to work together. It took some time to think about the challenge and the generations like this:

Traditionalist: “Tell me about the history of the program and who you see it affecting.”

Baby Boomer: “Let’s discuss why change will have positive results and be better down the road.” 

Gen X: “Help us point out the pitfalls in this project and how we can delegate some tasks.”

Millennial: “Who needs to be on the team? How can this project be more enjoyable?” 

Isn’t it funny how our greatest strength can often be the source of our greatest weakness, and vice versa? Our generational differences can be like that, simultaneously strength and weakness. Let’s use our generational power for good and not evil.

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Topics: Millennials, Generations

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