In my former life as a Project Manager- cloaked as Youth and Family Minister – I saw a significant need for generational healing in the church setting. I saw over and over the fiery zeal of youth extinguished by direct or perceived criticism of effort or intent. On the other side, it was not uncommon to hear seasoned people include “these kids these days…” in their conversation. I also heard a lot of how useless and dumb older people were coming from the other direction. I thought… “that’s stupid”… and I set about to do something about it. I talked with a lot of people and explored a lot of ideas and the outcome of the quest was a successful leadership program for youth that sought team up people across generations for something bigger than themselves.
Fast forward and I have transitioned to Project Management in the business world. The transition was a positive one for a positive reason, in case you are wondering. I work for a great company and I deal with lots of companies daily. I don’t get taken aback that often, but I’m taken aback when I see the same dynamic playing out in the business world that I saw in the young folk’s world in the past.
I’m excited to hear of the initiatives to connect millennials. Smart companies are restructuring how they do business and what the work place looks like. Cities are being rebuilt with millennials in mind. All of this I get excited about for the future – even though I passed up the targeted age group a good while back. Honestly speaking, however, that doesn’t mean it’s all good or the most productive way to do all things. I’m digesting everything I can on more flexible project management approaches. It’s good, but it’s not all good.
On the other hand, I hear – let’s call them “seasoned professionals” (actually, I qualify) – still lamenting the “kids these days”. Attitudes, dress code, approaches to using the tools (i.e. phones), work ethics -and on and on – permeate discussions. Are the generalizations true? Sometimes, but not always. I have learned that sometimes people on their phones in my meetings are doing work for me… not playing games – or maybe they are doing both. I have also learned that someone who is anxious about a software enhancement isn’t dead yet – and has tremendous value to offer.
There are efforts on many fronts to be inclusive and to break down barriers. I see more about one generation “breaking the other” than I do the breaking down barriers between age groups. And that is stupid. I believe enormous business value is being missed over this dynamic – and I want to do something about it. It’s what I do. My motto is, “I’m not afraid to be wrong, but I’m not going to do nothing with projects and people entrusted to my care”. There’s far more wisdom out there than I have – regardless of age group. If you are willing, please share your thoughts or your answers to these questions.
What commonalities span all age groups as points of agreement?
What business functions or tasks do you see that a “cross generation” team could benefit? What are the things in business or client relationships that are “bigger” than age?
What efforts have you see to bridge the generations at work?