The Boomer president of a law firm was concerned about young attorneys who dressed more casually than he thought appropriate. So he sent an email to everybody saying that he wanted all attorneys in suits during client meetings.
One Millennial attorney didn’t agree. He gave the email some thought and decided to respond. He wrote, “I have a lot of young clients. A suit may not be the right move when meeting with them.” He carefully constructed his arguments for going casual.
Here’s where it gets interesting. He sent the email back by hitting "Reply All."
The Boomers and Gen Xers in the firm had understood the email as a directive. But the Millennial honestly had not seen that. He saw the email as an invitation to a conversation, and a company-wide conversation at that!
Why Nobody Got Fired
Maybe you expected the Millennial to be censured or fired. Nope, neither. Not only is he still with the firm, both he and the president tell the story and laugh. You see, they are a firm with Generational Intelligence.
Being a company with Generational Intelligence (Gen IQ) means that generational differences in communication are seen and called out. They are seen neutrally, as communication styles rather than as disrespect. People name the difference as generational rather than personal. There's more about Gen IQ at a personal level here.
Beyond Awareness to Strategy
But what about a whole company? How do you incorporate Gen IQ at every level so that every team is more productive and innovative?
The stages generally go like this.
1) Individual Awareness leads to 2) Independent Programs which combine to form a company-wide 3) Initiative. At this stage, however, the whole effort may still be a feel-good exercise in doing what's "right."
Then there is a major leap. The next step, 4) Align Initiative with Strategy and Goals, is the big one. When company goals and strategy are aligned with generational realities in the workforce and the market, Gen IQ becomes a competitive advantage.
At that point, people discover an imperative, a “why.” For example, we build Gen IQ because we must innovate, or because we must have talent to drive new products.
Once the company goals are informed by Gen IQ, companies implement 5) Policy Procedures and Accountability.
The final step is to hold the course and track outcomes as the company reaches a 6) Break Through to becoming an organization built to survive and even thrive through disruption. Boom!
Does your company have Generational Intelligence? Join the conversation! Tweet Amy at @AmyLynchGenEdge. And don't forget to add your #generation!
Amy Lynch is a generations author, speaker and consultant who helps companies harness the power of Generational Intelligence. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the US Senate. Contact Amy about your next conference!
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