The Myth of the Generational Divide: Just Another Brick in the Wall

ABC generations

“Hey teachers, leave us kids alone.” It was the rallying cry for a generation of teenagers – dubbed Generation X – predicted to be nomads, slackers and underachievers. It was 1979. I was ten years old…and it was my favorite song.

At this point, I expect mixed reactions to the lead into my latest article:

  • Applause from Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and perhaps a few Traditionalists who immediately recognize (and will probably sing) the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s iconic rock anthem “Another Brick in the Wall.”
  • Confusion from Gen Y and Z who will promptly Google the song, bring up a Spotify playlist or just move on to another article.
  • Curiosity from music lovers – young, old and everywhere in between – about the song, the band and exactly why I’ve used this pop culture reference to make a point.

Okay, I made a few assumptions that led to a few generalizations about people and music. To some degree they are, in fact, rooted in truth. But before I create any “Bad Blood” between different generations, let me explain.

The term ‘generation gap’ was, in the past, used mostly to describe conflicts between parents and children, but over time it’s taken on an entirely different meaning. Today, it’s been replaced by the phrase ‘generational divide,’ where employees from different generations are finding it difficult to work side by side because their experiences, goals and expectations are different. What was once considered a set of minor differences has, allegedly, become a great and challenging divide.

As I prepared for a recent team building workshop, including a conversation about the so called ‘generational divide,’ I searched for a creative way to debunk the pervasive notion that time, age and experience conspire to create a deep and divisive barrier to effective communication and collaboration. And then Pink Floyd showed me the writing on the wall.

I walked into Starbuck’s wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt. The twenty something barista smiled and said, “Welcome to Starbuck’s. What can I get started for you?” I gave him my order, scanned my Apple Pay and fell back into a comfy chair dreaming of pumpkin spice latte and crisp autumn mornings. When my warm delight was ready, he called my name and yelled, “Awesome shirt dude. PF rocks.” As I sipped my little piece of heaven I whispered, “Yes, my millennial friend, they do.”

That was my ‘a-ha’ moment:  confirmation that the connections between generations are much stronger than the disconnects. And it’s not just music.

Yes, there are many differences driven by age and experience, but those differences only create a ‘divide’ when we see them as challenges rather than opportunities. The incessant, and frankly annoying, focus on the ‘generational divide’ is a recurring myth that arrives on cue every 15-20 years. And it predictably creates barriers – those metaphorical bricks in the wall – that distract us from what actually connects us.

We’ve spent so much talking about the idea of an entire group of people, that we’ve lost sight of people themselves:  real, individual, unique people and the relationships that allow us to connect, collaborate and create value for ourselves, our teams and our organizations. There’s one simple truth that we’ve all overlooked:

The workplace isn’t changing simply because one generation has come of age while another has grown old. It’s because we collectively – regardless of age and experience – have evolved.

We need to re-focus on connecting with people, not adapting to an entire generation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

The music of Pink Floyd and other classic rock bands is uniquely celebrated by older generations, but the love of music – in all its forms – is not a generational ‘thing.’ Music is core to the human condition. It provides the soundtrack to our lives and connects us across time and space. I should know, I’m listening to Taylor Swift right now…and so are millions of Gen Zs.

So, listen to the music, but please, don’t put another brick in the wall.

Until next time,

Connect, Collaborate and Create!™

Ryan

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www.connectcollaboratecreate.com

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The Gift of Time: Spend Less Of It On Social Media “Noise”

A colleague recently asked me what I’d like for Christmas.  My response?  Give me a minute…

Time, in fact, is the perfect gift:  less of it.  No, I don’t want to turn back time or even have too much time on my hands.  I’d simply like to spend my time a little more efficiently and, honestly, the path to finding more valuable “me time” usually starts with finding ways to spend less time doing other things.

Recently, I wrote two articles about finding time to be inspired, energized and armed with the resources you need to succeed:

My weekly rituals usually start on Sunday afternoon with dedicated time for reading:  catching up on industry and professional news.

Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and multiple other on-line sources and applications) has made it easy to filter what I read, when I read it and ultimately, what I do with that information.

The downside?  Most of us have likely found ourselves spending more and more time combing through the notifications, updates, and push information that we receive via multiple Social Media sources.  It has, in fact, started to chip away at my “me time.”

This week, I started my search for a way to re-claim some of that time from social media “noise.”  One of the best social media time management resources I came across:

Another, more technical and tactical, resource I discovered was:

Time is precious – make the most of it!

Until next time:  connect, collaborate and create!

Ryan

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Creating a Positive Customer Experience: Blend High Touch Experiences With Technology (Part 4 In a Series)

In earlier installments of this series, I highlighted two core drivers of successful customer initiatives.

The first driver of success starts with your employees: create a culture that engages them, treats them as internal customers and leverages their experiences as consumers. After all, we all are consumers and experience the good, bad and ugly customer experiences every day.

The second driver of success is all about your end customers: their expectations, their priorities, and their “moments of truth.” When you truly understand why customers chose you, why they come back (or don’t), and why they stay (or run to your competitor), you are on your way to creating the consistent positive interactions that bring your customers back – again and again.

The final installment in this series focuses on the third core ingredient in successful customer initiatives: how you blend high touch experiences with on-demand, just-in-time experiences via technology.

Organizations have jumped on the “social media” bandwagon and, frankly, many have fallen off. Utilizing technology whether it’s your company website, social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube require a strategy, an implementation plan, maintenance continuous improvement, and a structured method of tracking and evaluating success.

Two ideas to consider:

1. Go back to what you learned about your customers! Determine what “blend” of high-touch experiences and on-line and on-demand experiences your customers want, need and prefer. This is your baseline for your strategy for completing the best experiences for your customers.

Think about companies like The Ritz Carlton and State Farm. They emphasize the personal touch, while also offering alternatives through 24 hour on-line access to reservations, agents, etc. Now, think about a company like E-surance, where the customer experience is reflected in their slogan “people when you want them…technology when you don’t.” Or how about Discover’s new ‘It’ card? Discover emphasizes the same concept: you can go on-line or you can talk to a ‘live’ agent 24/7 – it’s your choice, your preference…but we’ll be there. These companies understand their customers’ needs, priorities and preferences….and deliver consistent positive customer experiences.

2. Define a detailed social media strategy that goes beyond your website and customer support. How do you or how should you be using social media? It starts by asking yourself who your audience is. Many companies make the fatal mistake of believing that creating a Facebook page is similar to the great film “Field of Dreams”: build it and they will come. Bad news: they won’t come unless they have a reason to.

Who is your audience for communication through social media: current customers; potential customers; current employees; potential employees? If your Facebook strategy is not defined and mostly consists of pictures of your annual bowling event or holiday party it is very likely customer traffic will be low if existent at all.

The bottom line: social media is an investment in time, research, strategy, and yes money. Start at the beginning and ask yourself a simple question: Why are we doing this? The answer may be surprising: no…at least not yet.

Until next time: connect, collaborate and create!

The Connector – Ryan

Make An Appointment With The One Person Who Doesn’t Get Enough of Your Time – You!

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We’re always connected:  Iphones, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and even those dreaded land lines! Our calendars are filled with back to back meetings, project updates, client calls, team building, training, birthday celebrations.

 

Those occasional “drive by” conversations can also throw our day off track, but the value of relationship building can never be underestimated when a spontaneous conversation yields something productive!

So, how do you do it all? Competing priorities, both at work and home, often make it difficult to take time for yourself, especially while at work. I learned years ago that, as a leader, I could not do everything and everything could not be a priority. In fact, making time for myself would be one key to success as I continued to grow as a leader and client consultant.

A while back, my mentor suggested that I manage my “me time” just as I would any other business transaction: schedule regular appointments each week. Define your goals for that time: what you will do, what you want to accomplish, and what your next steps will be.

Here’s how I use my personal appointment time:

1. Schedule two standing appointments each week.  My Monday morning appointment is non-negotiable even if it means I have to move it from 8am to 6am. It’s my “quiet” time to fully review the previous week, prepare for my current week and look out several weeks (and months) to see what’s coming and how I need to be preparing for it now. I also schedule a “rolling” hour each week where I can use “quiet” time to catch up on industry and professional news, schedule my writing and publishing deadlines, make calls to colleagues to “pick their ear” on a topic, or participate in a web-conference or event.

2. Block out time – literally create an appointment – in your calendar and label it “busy.” I have a very strong “open door” policy, but these appointments are times when I literally close the door or find a place where I cannot be disturbed. And when the phone rings….don’t answer it. When that text message bings….don’t pick it up. If it’s that important, they’ll leave a message.

3. Encourage your team or others you work with to do the same. It may seem strange to a few people, but once they get into the habit, the value becomes very clear. You’re better organized, more creative, more engaged and, yes, more energized about what you do.

One more thing: I make time each week to connect, collaborate and create with all of you!

Until next time…

Ryan

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