How Do You Not Know This? Tips From The Manager’s Answer Book

A commentator on the news recently referred to LBJ, and quickly clarified he was not talking about LeBron James but rather the president in the 1960s. 

This brought to mind a conversation I had a few years ago with my nephew, Jim, a border-line Baby Boomer and his husband, Rich, a GenXer. Rich was telling us, “We recently watched the movie All the Way about Lyndon Baines Johnson.”  Huh, I thought.  Who refers to him as Lyndon Baines Johnson?  He’s LBJ, as in the campaign slogan All the way with LBJ. Hence the title of the movie.  “And during the movie,” Rich continued, “Jim asked me: How do you not know this?” Generational differences were clearly at work here.

Every generation brings their own points of reference into the workplace. So, it’s not that unusual to hear comments like How do you not know this? 

Manager’s Tip: How do you better understand and manage generational differences in today’s workplaces? That’s a question included in The Manager’s Answer Book and here’s some of what we have to say.

Take the time to look for the common ground. For example, for younger generations, work is not the main focus of their life and/or their identity. They are more inclined to want to have a life outside of work that is meaningful. So do the older generations, but the younger ones seem to be better at making it happen. In fact, many of the things that the younger workers want—a friendly environment, the ability to use their skills while learning something new, respect, the opportunity to help others, adequate paid time off and flexibility, health and welfare benefits, and the opportunity to do meaningful work—are things older workers wanted, but the difference is they just didn’t know they could ask for them!

Don’t let differences drive a wedge among coworkers.  Bridging the generation gap at work happens by recognizing that we are all at different stages of our lives, and possess different career aspirations and needs.  As with any diversity challenge, figuring out what’s unique brings about greater understanding and a recognition that we have more in common than we realize.  


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