A New Formula

Use a diverse workforce to your advantage

Do comments that involve generational differences in the workplace make you as uncomfortable as they do me?

  • "Kensie is always on her phone. I think she’s tweeting or something."
  • "Paul is leaving to pick up his kids from soccer again."
  • "George will never change. He just says: ‘But we’ve always done it that way.’"

As fascinated as I am by the topic, once you "go there," the stereotypes and sweeping generalizations often prove cringe-worthy.

The fact of the matter is that people in each generation bring something unique to their approach to their work—but all of the contributions intertwine to become something greater than the whole. These contributors—with their wide range of ages and backgrounds—all have unique skills, life experiences and personality traits that build the teams that foster innovation.

As leaders, colleagues and members of teams, an understanding of the habits and preferences unique to the five(ish) generations currently in the workplace can prove extremely advantageous. It will help you identify the right motivators, capitalize on the strengths and avoid unhealthy conflicts.

This month, in "Know Your XYZs" author Jan Ferri-Reed provides insight into what defines each generation and how to harness the strengths of each. Notably, she discusses the influx of millennials into the workforce, which is having a profound influence on how teams function. She also discusses how many millennials are now becoming managers themselves and what that means for older generations.

This month’s Innovation Imperative column, "A Fresh Mix," also discusses age diversity and how different generations can collaborate to enhance creativity.

"Labor turnover is one of the highest hidden costs in business," author Peter Merrill writes. "And less than 10% of organizations have planned to offset the departure of baby boomers and address the engagement of generation X."

This points to a huge miss in organizational planning. Be prepared to address this in coming years.

Finally, the Quality in the First Person column, "Culture Shock" looks at the issue of gender bias in the workplace from one woman’s perspective. It’s certainly something to be conscious of to combat such harmful behaviors.

Seiche Sanders

Seiche Sanders

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