Just a few decades ago, the norm was to have just two generations in the workforce. The old guys held the top jobs, and the young ones worked for them, replacing the senior members as they retired.
Today, four (and sometimes even five) generations pile into the workforce—all having their own expectations, drives, fears and career goals. For communicators, the challenge is to not only build diverse teams that span these generations, but to also communicate inside an organization and to all of our external stakeholders in ways that cut across the entire generational spectrum.
A communication executive could have 30 years of experience, not upsetting the traditional balance of the most senior person holding the top job. But often, we find ourselves on teams in which age is not synonymous with seniority. The head of internal communication may be a terrific leader and strategist at the age of 35, working with team members in their 50s.
Millennials may find themselves impatient as they begin their career, anxious for the “old folks” to get out of the way so they can get promoted and assume a position of power. The baby boomers may feel threatened, easily replaceable by the younger generation because social media isn’t one of their core strengths. While finally, the Gen Xer may feel comfortable that they have moved up at the appropriate pace, but the millennial is nipping at their heels.
For everyone to be successful in the same space, a mind-set shift must occur.
It’s a commonly accepted truth that you should hire a team with complimentary talents. As a leader, it’s wise to surround yourself with people who possess strengths you don’t. While the corporate climate today has changed, that strategy has not.