The Generational Chasm

By Ruth Hunter-Hill posted 01-27-2016 09:59


Chasm / 'kazem/: a profound difference between people, viewpoints, feelings, etc.

I can't think of one workplace that is NOT multi-generational, including my own. As a "senior" member in our A/E/C community, I was admittedly a bit intimidated when I first got into marketing and SMPS about five years ago. I saw young people just out of college with virtually no real work experience running circles around me! They were confident, well-connected, and had superb skill sets that included mastering commonly used apps (such as InDesign, Photoshop, etc.). So I had to make a decision quickly: would I cower in the corner and continue to be intimidated, or would I embrace the amazing knowledge base that was now available to me? Obviously I chose the latter because I'm still here, and I'm growing every day. 

Yes, I am a baby boomer, and exhibit some of the "classic" characteristics of that generation (such as being resistant to change). However, having a Millennial son - and being open to learning new things - has helped me understand that generation better. My conversations with him gave me courage to discuss issues with my new SMPS multi-generational colleagues, like how to best communicate with them. It was clear to me that my square communication peg wouldn't fit into their round slot. I even asked one young lady on our Dallas board what ticks her off about my generation. Know what she said? For one thing, she doesn't like it when people refer to her as 'kid.'  Ouch. I've silently done that.

Re-read this part of that last paragraph: open to learning new things. There is absolutely no way we Baby Boomer types can survive in this or any industry if we're not open to learning new things.  Who knew that this 'old lady' would end up managing a company's website and social media, and could learn InDesign after years of working exclusively with Microsoft products?!

The lesson? Remember that old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Instead, open the book and read it thoroughly. You'll be surprised at what you learn.