Discussions With Clients: Common Ground
Discussions With Clients
At Impact, we’re honoured to have the opportunity to work with great clients. People we admire, respect and enjoy talking to. So much so, that we decided to share some of our most thoughtful and compelling conversations with the wider Impact community. So we can all learn from each other and take that knowledge into our own workplaces and make them better.
For our first article in our new series, Discussions with Clients, Sandra Oliver, Impact’s Founder, speaks with Stephanie Goyert, Chief Talent Officer at Hugessen Consulting Inc., about bridging the generational gap in the workplace.
Why is this topic particularly relevant today?
We’re firmly out of the pandemic and most of us have had time to readjust into some type of hybrid working model. We’re no longer in ‘survival’ mode. In fact, most organizations have come to some sort of new normal and are now tweaking policies and procedures around the edges (vs making dramatic changes to work approaches). So now that the dust has settled, so to speak, we can give more mindshare to this important challenge.
Also, those entering the workforce now have completed a significant part of their formative post-secondary experience during the pandemic. For the next few years this will have reverberating implications as we welcome new professionals to the workforce. They’re entering this new phase in their lives with a completely different set of experiences and expectations related to work and life priorities. And we have to consider and address, as leaders, how we adapt to that, while also helping shape their formative years as professionals and future leaders.
The gulf between different generations at work is bigger now than it’s ever been. There’s less understanding about our colleagues who are baby boomers, gen X, Millennials and gen Z – and generational stereotypes abound.
We could all do a better job of bridging this gap. Have better dialogues. Try to comprehend each other’s points of view. Listen to one another and find the common ground that will help us collaborate and work together more effectively.
The changes new generations bring can be positive and challenging
Every new generation provides a fresh set of eyes and helps shift the workplace in a positive way. At the same time, the changes they usher in can be uncomfortable or cause friction (think, hybrid work, for example).
But it’s important to acknowledge that:
- Opposing views can exist simultaneously. It isn’t either/or. Us vs them. Good vs bad. The change that new generations bring can be positive and challenging. And both can be worked on and worked through.
- Every previous generation was once the new generation that ushered positive change – and discomfort – into the workplace. Remembering this can help reduce the “us vs them” mindset and start to create some common ground.
- Each generation has entered the workforce in an entirely different economic, social, and political landscape. These different contexts shape our view of the world and impact how we operate within it.
How we respond and adapt impacts our working relationships and organizational culture. We can choose to resist changes and new expectations that new generations bring.
Or we can reframe them.
What positive changes will these new expectations drive? How can we implement some of those positive changes, while also maintaining some of the structures that benefit our workplace?
Be curious about how we can improve the work experience for everyone
It means we need to have open minds. Consider the underlying motivations driving the changes, preferences, and expectations. Find connections to our own motivations. Be curious about how we can use these motivations to improve the work experience for everyone.
It also requires us to suspend judgement, not make assumptions, and start to really understand each other. Have true open and honest dialogue – even about challenging topics. Be more forgiving. Share more deeply with each other and about what we all want for a better future. Realize that we’re more alike than we thought.
Be open to new ideas about working – because they’re good ideas
And we need to understand the baggage we carry from our own experiences. There are biases we all bring to our workplaces based on how we got to where we are. But the workplace has changed and will continue to change. We have to be honest about the biases we hold and be open to new ideas about working – because they’re good ideas.
As leaders, we have to be more open to the ideas of new generations. And be more honest about how we’re feeling. Because open and honest dialogue builds the trust that creates strong relationships. And relationships drive growth and innovation in today’s businesses – and they’ll continue to drive them long into the future.