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The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Lesson 3 of 6

Embracing Generational Differences

Gaynor Strachan Chun

The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Gaynor Strachan Chun

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Lesson Info

3. Embracing Generational Differences

Lesson Info

Embracing Generational Differences

So embracing those differences and actually building strong relationships. So there're various strategies that you can put in place, if you're having issues, and you have a culture, if you, like, a workplace culture, where people don't seem to be getting along, or people don't seem to be able to break down those stereotypical barriers. So there's mindset strategies, and there's behavioral strategies. Back to the brain again, sorry. I like knowing there's science underneath this. It's not just us talking. So the mindset strategies are, first of all, approach the person with interest. That's what you just did, right? I gave you a task, but you approached it with interest. You were interested in finding out about each other and then pleasantly surprised against the fear or negativity. Collin, was it you that was telling me about your 20-year-old being an intern right now? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so she's approaching it with interest, right? Yeah, she's super excited. So she has an interns...

hip with a gentleman who is in his 80s, and she's 20, and she absolutely loves and adores him. It's exciting. Right, right, so there is 20-year-old, 80-year-old. But he's a master, right? Yes. What is he a master at again, sorry, I forgot. He's a publisher. He's a publisher. But he's more a guru. (Collin laughing) Yeah, so he is kind of like, you know, guru. The 20-year-old could approach that by saying, ugh, he's so old. He knows nothing about, what can he tell me that's going to be relevant for my publishing career that has changed so much. Kind of a, anything that he says is just gonna be really old-fashioned, as opposed to approaching it with great interest and saying kind of like, god, he just is a wealth of knowledge, right, and wisdom. So I think that's a great example of you approach with interest, or you approach with negativity. Second thing is take a learning orientation, which is exactly what your daughter is doing, right? She's a sponge, just like, let me learn as much from him as I possibly can. One of the greatest values of there being differences is that we can learn from each other because we've all had different life experiences, we've all had different educational experiences, we've all had different cultural experiences. So those differences we can actually learn from each other, and therefore just become more knowledgeable ourselves. Be mindful, just be mindful of how your assumptions influence your interactions. Again, are you looking at the individual just, the person, as opposed to kind of like the book cover. And then move beyond the categorization. That's what obviously you've been doing here with that workshop, and catch yourself. How long do people stay categorized in your head. Oh, he's one of the old guys or one of that young group. That is categorization, old, young is categorization in and of itself. So move to the individual knowledge as quickly as we possibly can. Easier in smaller workplace environments, more difficult in larger workplace environments, where people also tend to be sectioned off by function. So you have to make more of an effort to bring people together, and for them to be able to kind of interact across functions as well 'cause you always gonna have that functional commonality. If you're a cameraman, and you have a commonality with other cameramen, right? So, and then put yourself in their shoes. It's like look at the world from the other person's perspective and not just your own. Where are they coming from, what influences them, where to the wanna get to? Kind of like a lot of people starting new careers because there is no longer such a thing as a linear career, right? We're constantly learning and changing. I mean, look at my career. (laughs) I have significantly changed my career from where I started. I started in market research, would you believe. Market research. (woman laughing) The norm is gonna be more non-linear career. So understanding also where people want to get to, and how you can each help each other get to where you want to go. People are working longer, or they're starting new careers. I mean, I have a close friend who was a pastry chef for 30 years, and her body was breaking down because of standing on her feet all day. So she gave that up and went back to school and is now a lawyer. Go figure. I mean that's a really non-linear career, (laughs) go from making pastries to becoming a lawyer. But she did it because she knew she couldn't stand on her feet much longer, basically. So understand where people want to get to is very important, not just where they are now. Behavioral strategies. Be flexible, we all need to be flexible, especially more so these days with the rate of change. The only thing we can count on is change. So, we have to be flexible. We have to be adaptable, and we also have to be flexible as to how we communicate, and obviously we were talking about this this morning in active listening, whether it'S face-to-face, email, instant messaging, we need to figure out what peoples' preferences are, and then also what's appropriate depending on the type of communication. Avoid jargon, so speak in plain terms. It's not kind of slip into old habits, young, old, whatever, whatevers. Be attentive, look for signs of misunderstanding. The active listening class was really all about that, right? The body language, facial expressions or an unintended reaction to something that you say because the word is, you know, or the way that you say it. Practice active listening, we did that, we did that. But yeah, you listen for the different values and outlooks that you have. Is the person a work-to-live or a live-to-work? There's a big difference. And then above all else be respectful. And by using the strategies with the mindset and the behavioral strategies, you're showing that you're being respectful 'cause you're interested in the person, and you can get beyond that. And then practice open-mindedness. I love this quote, "The mind is like a parachute, "it works only when it is open." Open-mindedness is probably one of the, again, another critical skill for us to have these days, right? Not be kind of like close-minded about how things should be done because that's the way they've always been done, which is you hear quite often is a common complain about some of today's workplaces, and I think again, more so in larger corporations. But, you know, can happen in small companies too, especially if there's, you know, family runs the way the family's always done it, right? So, "Open-mindedness includes a active desire "to listen to more sides than one," and, "to give heed to facts from whatever their sources, "to give full attention to alternative ideas," and alternative ideas to the ones that you have, the way you're used to working, the way kind of like you think it should be done, alternative ideas, and, "to recognize the possibility of error." I mean, you could be wrong. (giggles) We can be wrong sometimes. That's what we do about how we learn from it, right, "and revisit our own thinking." Again, this is a quote from an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer. He was actually trying to reform the education system to be much more focused on teaching children to be open-minded, and so that they could actually learn more and kind of take more on rather than the test syndrome.

Class Description

What do you get when you put a baby boomer, a GenXer and a millennial on a team? Squabbling? Misunderstanding? Utter chaos? Or maybe you get a potent mix of styles, perspectives and ideas that can move your business forward in ways a more homogeneous team couldn’t.

While teams made of like minded individuals can seem more manageable and harmonious, they aren’t particularly realistic considering that the current workforce is made up of people from four different generations. So it’s a good idea for managers and team members to figure out ways to just get along.

Gaynor Strachan Chun will explain both the challenges and opportunities that multigenerational teams present and show how they can provide team members with experiences that are more fun, fulfilling and successful.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize the unique strengths of each generation.
  • Keep an open mind, accept different opinions and respect others’ backgrounds.
  • Find the fun in multigenerational teams.
  • Get over stereotypes and presumptions that we have about different generations.
  • Understand the value and power of diversity.
  • Set up rules of engagement.


Jerry Smith

very well done, so much to learn, best of all is the process of explaining stuff is amazing, i totally highly recommend to learn from here. 10 our of 10 points from my side. Jerry Smith


It's so refreshing to have a productive and practical conversation about multi-generational teams. Gaynor reminds us of the important roles that generations play in our society by discussing how both wisdom and disruption are essential. She provides language and concepts that help us break down our stereotypes and empower multi-generational teams to be not just functional, but also creative.