Only Different ages, not different species.


Only Different ages, not different species.

“There is a defining moment in every person’s life.

Within that moment, everything that that person is shines its brightest.”

– Author Unknown

We all remember those defining moments in our lives—those moments when we know that something has changed—though they may not be so apparent at the time. We just know something shifted on that day, and, at that precise moment, something was altered.

Allow me to take you back ten years. My defining moment was when I had a deep, intuitive knowing that the world of work, as I knew and loved it, had shifted. With this came the realization that I also had to change.

Born in 1959, I am warmly snuggled into the baby boomer cohort, and I am fifty-one years old at the time of this book being published. I wear many hats, as do you. Not only do I see through the lens of my own generation, but also that of being a mother to a remarkable Generation X son. Like many of you, I have also worked alongside all the generations throughout my career, and I generally interact with them on a daily basis in life. Within these varied experiences is where I have gained an appreciation of the immense talents and gifts of each generation as they show up in the workplace to offer up what they do best.

My natural style is that of a risk taker. My moves are not always calculated and thought out, but, then, that is what makes the journey more exciting. The majority of my background and education is in the field of Human Resources, including ‘Learning and Development.’ I had already experienced a wonderful career and had opted for a profession in business management, but I made a monumental leap of faith to leave the security of an exceptional executive role as a Human Resources Director—working alongside people that were an inspiration to be with daily—to venture out on my own into the insecure world of the consultant with all of its unknown pathways.

One of my first consulting ‘gigs,’ as we so fondly call jobs in our contract world, was to work for three months in a well-known and highly successful high-tech company. This company was known worldwide, and specialized in the video gaming entertainment industry, and it had a complement of staff that was 85-percent Generation X. My role was to look at their Human Resources functions, make strategic recommendations, work with the senior executive team, and, all the while, recruit a new Human Resources Manager.

I was two months into my contract, and had been working with Marlene, one of the Game Producers, on an extremely sensitive Human Resources issue regarding one of her staff. The situation was clearly earmarked with all the signs of a pending court battle. The fact that it had been left unresolved for close to a year prior to my arriving on the scene had done nothing to resolve the case, but we had finally achieved an outcome where everyone felt like a winner, and it had been done with respect for all of the parties involved.

As the meeting adjourned, I headed down the hallway back to my office feeling like it was a job well done. All of sudden, I felt a sharp slap between my shoulder blades, and heard Marlene’s animated voice exclaiming,  “Olivia, YOU ROCK!” Without another word or comment, she continued down the path to her office, waving her hands in the air.

I stopped in the hallway thinking to myself—“I what? I ROCK? What does that mean?” Confused, I wandered into the VP of Production’s office. “Marlene just told me I ROCK! What exactly does that mean?” Randy looked up from his desk and grinned, “Wow, you just got the biggest kudos you can get around here. Cool.” I paused, “Really, you say?” and I wandered back to my office knowing something was different.

Now, remember, this was ten years ago. In my world, you did not slap people on the back unless you were playing sports and had scored a goal. Two, ‘ROCK’ either meant ‘rock and roll,’ or something hard on the ground. For the first time in my career, I was surrounded with youthful players as opposed to the majority of leaders being my own age. In three short months, this company had left a mark on me that had transformed how I was to view the younger generations permanently. It was a symbiotic relationship; they needed my wisdom in Human Resources, and my ‘I’ve been there, done that’ attitude was needed in my role as a mentor. They, in turn, drew out of me an innate zeal for supporting the workplace—neither underestimating their talents nor devaluing the power of their youthful innovation or their unique, casual approach to business management, which was one that I had rarely known before.

The work I do around the challenges of generations or building collaboration isn’t about fixing anyone as though they are broken; rather, it is work about the appreciation of gifts and merits that each generation brings to work and life in abundance. This work is experiential and will challenge you to meet each generation as equals, and to truly see them. The true essence of leadership is when we choose to be of service—to help others grow and become stronger. It is through this service as leaders that we need to make the changes of thought and action within ourselves first, in order to meet each generation on the path to success.

Thanks for reading

In our Four Generations—One Workplace program, we group people together with other members of their generation. Most often there are four generations active in the workplace today—Gen X (1966-1978), Gen Y (after 1978) , Baby Boomers (1945-1965) and the Pre-Boomer (Before 1945). We ask them to talk about what they want from work and what they want from the other generations. Interestingly, their wants at work vary but each generation inevitably asks for the same thing from the other generations-respect. Younger workers say things like: “Just because we look at little different and we are young, that does not mean we don’t have great ideas.” The older workers typically say something like: “Just because we have a little gray hair and are not as tech-savvy, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from our experience.” Next time you are working across generations, remember that each generation wants from us what we want from them, a little respect. And respect given, is most often given back.

Based on Olivia McIvor’s book, Four Generations One Workplace: sharing in the information age (2010) – this workshop focuses on educating individuals about the differences between generations as well as learning how to bridge the gaps between them.

The workshop can be taught by our experienced trainers or we can license your trainers to teach this program within your organization. This program teaches trends specific to the four generations at work today: The Pre-War/Pre Boomer Generation (born before 1942), The Baby Boom Generation (1942-1962), The “Gen X” Generation (1963-1977) and the Generation Y (born 1978-1990) and then moves forwards into collaboration.

In this experiential and interactive workshop:

* we explore how and why our work ethic has changed

* we discuss the gifts each generation offers as well as the challenges

* we look at the retention issues that surround each generation

* identify the conflicts that have arisen from having distinct generations  within the workplace today

*  explore the data on the six major values people expect to be able to live at work today

* Learn tips and practical ideas on what companies and managers can do to attract a variety of age groups, retain these valued individuals as well as inspire and communicate more effectively .

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