Styles not generations
Rawn Shah has a piece in at Forbes.com in the Leadership column in which he talks about Why You Must Network With Your Younger Employees.
Millennials are the leaders of the future, but today's leaders still need to guide them in the ways of the workplace. They also need to encourage all generations to become involved in common enterprise-wide platforms that can develop and enrich working relationships and networks.
The part that sparked most of the discussion is the dividing of the workforce into generational groups and then assigning behaviors and characteristics to them at a broad swath. While the generations can be an interesting starting point, it seems to me that there are too many people that cross those boundaries. Why not describe these as personal styles or categories of behavior, rather than assigning them specifically to specific age groups?
This way you could talk about people who tend to favor hierarchical, or independent, or collaborative approaches to work. Then you can ask what kind of person you are; what kind of people you need for the work in your organization; etc. This feels like the kinds of discussion one has when thinking about "the right kind of organizational network" for a business. It all depends on the type of work, type of people, and other such factors.
All this said, I completely agree with the overall sentiment of Rawn's article. People must work with others outside of their comfort zone, whether you are a new employee or someone who has been with the company for decades. There are people who know the internal processes incredibly well, and other people who know new ways of doing things.
[Photo: "The next generation of my tortoises" by Rami]
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