In traditional corporate models, age and experience were major players. Your boss was your senior. That was the norm.
Now that’s changing. For nearly 20 years, digital skills have upended the old model bit by bit. In a digital economy, change happens faster. New challenges demand new solutions and new skills. Experience and seniority tend to matter less, competency and agility more.
The generational layer cake breaks down even further on project teams where older employees often report to younger gens. Then there are demographic shifts—Millennials now outnumber other gens, and Gen Xers are increasingly in the CEO seat. The upshot?
all of us are more and MORE LIKELY to work
for someone born before selfies.
As always, the movies reflect what’s on our minds. In The Intern, Robert De Niro plays a retired Boomer who returns to work for Millennial Ann Hathaway.
Two years ago, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, playing washed up Gen Xers, vied for a Google internship and answered to Millennials in The Internship. The Quidditch scene (in which the humane, experienced Xers carry the day) is priceless, and there are similar senior-saves-the-day events in The Intern.
That’s all fine and fun and reassuring, but real life is more complicated. Working for a younger generation is more challenging than working for someone with whom you share generational DNA around subjects like communication and work ethic. Reporting to someone of a younger gen pretty much guarantees generational tripwires we can’t anticipate.
Learning Generational Intelligence
Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we understand and respond to the expectations of other generations, learn to translate their communication clues, unlearn ageism and banish our stereotypes about each other.
President of Generational Edge, Amy Lynch has written and spoken about the generations for 15 years. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Amy has been quoted in national publications, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC Evening News, among others.