The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Lesson 2/6 - Getting Personal


The Power of Multi-Generational Teams


Lesson Info

Getting Personal

There's a difference between a generalization and a stereotype. And if you actually look at generalization, it can actually be helpful, and this is where we go back to that marketing example again. Generalizations can be helpful when you're looking at behavior. But it's based on behavior, it's not values, it's not attitudes, it's not their upbringing, it's not where they came from, it's their current behavior. And that tends to be what marketers look at when they're trying to figure out who the target audience is for something, right? Is peoples behaviors. And you're trying to note those similarities. The great thing about generalization is that they're descriptive, they're not judgmental. They're not judgmental and they can be modified as new examples come in. So you might think, you know, of somebody's behavior as being X, but then you get new information, new learning, and you actually realize it was Y. I will give you a good example of that, and then we will definitely stop talking...

about stereotypes. When the Gen X-ers first came into the workplace, people thought they were lazy. That's what they were labeled as. They were labeled as being lazy. Now that could be, you could use that as a generalization, right, because that's a behavior, laziness is a behavior. Over time what people realized was that actually it was nothing to do with laziness, and everything to do with independence. They were the first generation of latchkey kids. And quite often had a lot of time when they were by themselves without parental guidance, because both parents were working. So they got to experiment with how they like to work, how long it took them to do things, and also become much more independent, because they had to do things for themselves. So what was generalized as being laziness to begin with, because they seemed to be sitting around or doing other things, was actually independence and they were able to, they understood how to carve up their time and how long it was gonna take them to do certain types of projects. So laziness became independence. 'Cause that was a generalization that could be modified. 'Cause it was based on behavior. You get into stereotypes, and quite frankly, stereotypes are just hurtful. Because they are, they lock people into categories, and they tend to lock people into categories saying this is, this is who you are and what you are. They're trying to limit the group. They make judgments, they make terrible judgments, stereotypes. They're not based on behaviors, they're based on what people think. That stereotypes, values and attitudes are. So, and they rarely therefore get modified, because again, it's that subconscious opinion, that judgmental opinion and it just gets locked in. So typical ones, Boomers are workaholics, and more materialistic. Millennials have no skills and don't know how to behave at work, I mean you hear that all the time, crazy. So, I think this is a great quote, labels are for cans, not people. So here's again, it's just a comparison, how the difference between generalizations and stereotypes, 'cause people do use these interchangeably. And I think it's really important that we kind of break it down and break it apart. So generalizations are helpful because they're conscious and they're analytic. So they're actually based on data. You know, it's behavioral data. They're descriptive and flexible. Where as on the flip side there, stereotypes are unconscious and they're reactive. They're judgmental and rigid. So it really again goes back to something that we were saying this morning in active listening, where we talk about putting away your personal biases, you know. So an older person walks into a room, they're not decrepit and they may not be a Luddite. So and then, generalizations actually seek to be accurate. That's why they're based on behavior, and that's why they can be modified, right? Because they seek to be accurate. And it's a piece of factual information if you like, whereas stereotypes seek to be simple. It's the lowest common denominator with stereotypes, right? You just kind of boil it down 'til it's like wallpaper. And generalizations are an attempt to capture similarities and principles, and stereotypes are an attempt to limit and pigeonhole people. And we all know that, yes, Jane. Every generation it seems like this is a generalization thinks the next generation is, you know, it's the end of the world, or whatever, because you know, it's not, the next generation is never as great as the current one. Right. But is the difference now-- The good ol' days! (laughing) Is the difference now that there's so many generations coexisting? That's one of the things that we were gonna talk about. Okay, sorry. No, but that's a really good point, and we can absolutely talk about it now. But yes, part of it is that, yeah in the past peoples work lives were actually shorter. They amount of years you worked was shorter. And truthfully the generations were extended because they were more based on social event, or social or cultural events, then they were on years. And now they've gotten much tighter on years. SO, what you have now, very shortly, is you could have six, you could actually have six generations in a workplace. Because you still have veterans, say you're working for a not for profit and you're volunteering or something, you could still be working with veterans from World War II, you know, literally, or Korean War I would say, Korean War, sorry, Korean War. And you could be obviously working with a 20 year old who would be categorized as being a Gen Z. So you've six generations. Which is a lot to deal with, and it's a lot of differing, work styles, attitudes, habits, et cetera. So yes, it's a really good point, that is part of the issue, is just the number of categorizations we have, as opposed to just looking at them at we have full range of humanity, right? So yes, but no you're absolutely right, that's a really good point, I'm glad you brought that up, thanks. And then generalizations as we said are constantly modified, and stereotypes are not. I mean have you ever read any stereotype about description of the Boomers or the Millennials that's actually changed in the last five years? I haven't. They all still say the exact same thing. It's crazy. So dumping them is a good thing. So we don't work with stereotypes, as we've been talking about. We actually working with human beings, and very similar to, we work with individuals. So we need to focus on obviously, the first thing we need to do is dump the stereotype, focus on the person that you're working with, not who you think they are. There is always the possibility of a commonality or a connection. Apart from anything else, if you work in a company, and I know that most of you have your own companies, but you still are working with people, you chose, or you know and work with other people that have chosen the same career as you or vocation as you. That's a commonality to start off with, doesn't matter what age you are, right? You were talking about your portraits, right? You're a portrait photographer and the fact that you work with high school seniors, but then you also work with their moms, and their dads, and their grandparents sometimes, but they've chosen to come to you, and you've chosen to take them on as a client. There's a commonality there from the very beginning, and then it's down to understanding what each of you wants out of that relationship with your work, right? Yeah, so. So yeah, start there. So again, what I'm saying is like, just choose the individual over their stereotype every time. And it's amazing how much conflict will disappear. Okay, we're gonna pair up here. So you've done some of this in the previous class, but just take a few minutes to actually get to know each other and see if you can actually find something you didn't know about each other that you have as a common thread. Okay? Do we wanna switch the pairs for a change? Or are you all want to just. We don't like change. (laughing) We don't like change. (laughing) Well I'm gonna switch the pairs. So why don't we swap? Carlynn why don't you swap, yeah, yeah. Swap, swap, yeah. The two of us? Yeah, the two of you swap and then you can have two person, yeah! Oh, okay, got it. There you go. So, yeah, so just take a couple of minutes and see if there's something you can find out about each other that you didn't expect, and there is actually a commonality. And Laura and I will do the same thing. (audience chattering) So what do you do, you are a teacher? So yeah, I'm just a photography instructor. Oh cool, very cool. In other multimedia classes. Nice, where? In colleges, for continuing education. Nice, very cool. And I have the green card since three years, and I'm originally Italian from Florence. A background in art, painting, photography. Beautiful. Well, I actually, so my name is Carlynn, I've been in California most of my life, but my family is Mexican, so and I-- Okay. So that's a big part of everything I do. Okay, well I love to organize so. (laughing) So there you go. So do you have like a consulting business or? I do residential organizing. And I know the KonMari method. Oh yes, I love her! It's really good. Have you read the book? Yeah, I read it. Did you do that? I read all of her books. I haven't done everything. Laura and I were talking about the fact that also geography can make a difference in terms of the type, the culture of the place that you live. So she and I obviously are not originally from San Francisco. (laughing) Or from the states, and we both kind of like agreed with each other that in San Francisco, we actually have a broader range of friends from an age perspective, then we necessarily had in the old country. And how, just because San Francisco's culture is known as being open to, and very creative, and open to new ideas and everything else, it's just that is the commonality, that's why we all kind of chose to live here. So that can also effect, so where you live can also effect that. What else did you discover about each other? Yeah! Well, Jane is an organizer, and she's all into the KonMari method, which I am like so excited about, I've read all of those, all the books and everything. So, I had no idea. (laughing) You had no idea that she was. No, but, and that we're both interested in that, and I'm always organizing stuff, which you'd think I'd figure it out by now. But maybe I need her. (laughing) And you had no idea either that she was into it. No! Perfect, so that's a perfect example, right? Perfect example, what about you to. Well, actually we both have a few things in common, because we have an artistic background, so we come from the world of art, and we both also work with graphic design, and so we come from the worlds of colors, shades. Digital art.] Digital art, yeah. And then also we discovered that we both love places like Big Sur. So we were talking about wild and nature, a free world that we are so lucky to have here in California. And we both come originally from different countries. Well, I am from Florence, yeah. (laughing) Florence, great city. Yeah. Both great cities, right, so. Well good, good, so I mean, again it's just an example of again, getting personal, sitting down, actually talking to each other, and understanding what you're interests are and where there are commonalities, and then you start building a relationship from there. It's no different, and it shouldn't be any different from how you build any other relationship. You start by trying to find some commonality. And that's kind of sometimes harder in a workplace because you've all got your job to do, and things like that, but there are still ways to do it, and there's still ways to let people, understand people and what they are passionate about. Even if it's to do with their actual work, whether it's graphic design, color, organization, whatever, right? It doesn't have to be job function related.

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.