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The Mindsets Of Different Generations

July 20, 2012

“I can’t get my team to unify and move forward with the technology.”

That was the statement that was made to me from a Gen X CEO last week.

This CEO is an engineer and like most engineers he has a high level of technical knowledge and he was finding it a challenge to get the rest of his team to move forward quickly.

We were having a conversation about what do we do when the team can’t move forward quickly when it comes to technology. He was blaming it on the fact that his team was all baby boomers.

There are many baby boomers that are very technically advanced.  I have also surveyed employees and CEO’s who say that there is still a portion of baby boomers in the workplace who are resisting the pace of keeping up with the latest technology.

The challenge that this CEO was facing was generational he is a Gen X in his mid-30s and his six-member team were all baby boomers or Zoomers as I call them. Zoomers are in their late 40’s up until their late 60s. Gen X have a unique viewpoint as they understand the mentality of a Gen Y who are tech savvy and fast as well as the Zoomer who has great experience but can take a little longer to adapt to the technology.

Gen X have a good balance of both of the Gen Y and Zoomer skill sets. As a CEO he uses technology constantly such as the latest app or using texting to communicate or using Skype instant messaging.

The CEO was frustrated that his Zoomer team wanted to stick with traditional methods of communication such as face to face or email. For many Gen X and Y email is snail mail.

He found that when he asked them to collaborate on a document and suggested that they use Google Doc they wouldn’t use the tool. He said to me, “You know, they (baby boomers) are the problem. They aren’t fast enough. They aren’t using the technology,” and as any good consultant would I held up the mirror and I said, “Wait a second here. You’re the leader of the team. It is your responsibility to ensure that the team gets on board with what you are wanting them to do.”

Now, there’s a couple things that this CEO needed to do and what you need to do and a lot of time this requires your patience but also your willingness to help move your team’s skill forward. The solution comes down to communication and training.

Hold a team meeting and address the technology challenge straight out and say, “You know, I am noticing that we are being slowed down as a team because we are all not on the same page when it comes to using technology to advance us and here is what I would like to suggest we do in the next hour. Let’s talk about the technology I am using. I am going to share with you what I do with it, I am going to share with you how I use it, I am going to share with you how I think we can all be using it,” and literally in a one hour meeting you could accomplish a lot as far as getting everybody up to speed with using the technology that you want them to use.

Frankly, this CEO was just frustrated because he was using his own knowledge and trying to move things forward but he wasn’t taking the time to understand why his team members weren’t adopting the new technology or what was causing the pushback. A lot of times regardless of generation it is all about change and every human being will resist change unless they are given ideas and tools that prove the change is positive, otherwise they are going to stick with what they have always done. It is normal human nature.

If you find yourself saying,  “I can’t get my team to move forward,” it is an opportunity for you to look at what can you do differently to communicate to them and to get them on board to develop the team skills gap.

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