Generation: (n) Everybody born about the same time you were, and who shared many of your formative experiences.
Stereotype: (n) Preconceived notions that Gen Xers are Slackers, that Millennials are entitled or that Boomers are intractible. (NOT!)
Generational stereotyping is not new. In the 8th century BC, the poet Hesiod wrote, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.” Each generation tends to bash the new guys (one reason leadership training is so important).
Furthermore, stereotypes run both ways. In 1964, Jack Weinberg, coined the saying, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” and it has endured ever since.
Ageism is an equal-opportunity prejudice. People of every generation tend to be ageist. But ageism has a high price. It robs us of productiviTy and innovation.
Generational Stereotypes & Your Bottom Line
Here’s the problem. Ageism and stereotypes can hurt your bottom line. The study "The Impact of Aging and Age Diversity on Company Performance" uses a simple cost-benefit model to analyze the overall impact of age diversity on productivity. The study shows that the benefits of a generationally diverse workforce outweigh the costs of employing older workers, especially when companies need innovation and creativity. That's right. We need all generations, not just Millennials, if we want innovation.
The study finds that age diverse teams bring together a variety of values, perspectives, experiences, and ideas that improve an organization’s ability to solve problems. Multigenerational teams also show a greater immunity to the pitfalls of groupthink. Also, age diversity allows for two-way mentoring in which Boomers and Gen X teach leadership skills to younger gens and Millennials and Gen Z offer tech insight.
Lead with Generational Intelligence
Two big factors play a role in reducing ageism and growing Generational Intelligence—the attitudes of top management, and diversity-friendly HR policies. Managers must know how to lead multiple generations. But your work does not end there.
Leaders’ attitudes toward various age groups influence the entire organizational culture. For better or worse, they spead like a virus. That’s why you, as a leader, must adopt Generational Intelligence. Without it, your company will almost certainly miss out on productivity, innovation and success.
Crestcom is an international interactive leadership development and sales training organization that has trained more than 1 million leaders representing 20,000 businesses in 60 countries across the globe. Crestcom does this through a unique blend of live-facilitated multimedia video, interactive exercises, and shared learning experiences, followed up by action plans and accountability sessions to ensure measured development in key leadership competency areas.