Generations In The Workplace Can Be A Source Of Conflict Or Collaboration. And You Get To Decide.

July 27, 2022 00:38:41
Generations In The Workplace Can Be A Source Of Conflict Or Collaboration. And You Get To Decide.
I See What You Mean
Generations In The Workplace Can Be A Source Of Conflict Or Collaboration. And You Get To Decide.

Jul 27 2022 | 00:38:41


Show Notes

Gentelligence - Intelligence produced by inter-generational learning and collaboration.


This week's guest and co-authors have added this meaningful word to our vocabulary - also the title of their book - and it's one I predict will be added to dictionaries. The concept's value isn't limited to the workplace, but with five generations of Americans in the workforce, the concept's time has come.


Dr. Megan Gerhardt, Professor of Leadership at Miami University's Farmer School of Business, joins me for this episode to discuss ways generations conflict or collaborate at work, and how a few simple conversation techniques can transform suspicion and tension into trusting relationships. Relationships rich with creativity and innovation - and respect - which come from generational differences.


Megan and I had a lot to talk about so I split the conversation into two episodes. Here are a few of my favorite ahh-ha! moments from Part 1:


1:41 - How some foundational ideas which would become Gentelligence came from being a 26-year old university instructor closer in age to her students than to many of her colleagues - and appreciating the diversity of ideas she saw

3:17 - "Please help us figure out what to do with these millennials!"

8:08 - Generational diversity can produce collaboration, learning and intelligence - except left to our own devices that doesn't usually happen. Like any diversity, generational diversity must be managed to be useful.

11:09 - What is a generation, and why do they matter?

18:48 - "Oh! You're taking notes on your phone while I'm talking? That's not what I thought you were doing…."

21:13 - Four practices for creating Gentelligence. The first one is conduct an assumption audit and I LOVE that phrase! Then adjust the lens, build trust and expand the pie - and each comes with simple conversation practices to use.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how to get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Megan Gerhardt. Megan's a professor of management and leadership at the farmer school of business at Miami university and the author of gen intelligence, which we're gonna discuss today. Megan, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:22 Thanks so much for having me, Speaker 1 00:00:24 My pleasure. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Let's start with a short bio about yourself. Speaker 2 00:00:29 Sure. So as you mentioned, I am a professor of leadership at Miami university in the farmer school of business, and that's been my job for last 20 years or so, but then I have also really been passionate about researching and speaking in the area of generational diversity and trying to reframe the conversation we're having around the power of different ages and the experience and expertise that generational diversity can bring to the workplace. Speaker 1 00:00:58 Excellent. Well, there's so much to talk about in your research and the book, let's start with this. I'm gonna make a prediction. I looked up gen intelligence on and it isn't there, but I'm gonna predict that on July 1st, 2023, a year from today, it's in You've coined a term, which I think is a perfect term for what you've researched and what, what people could do, right. To sort of harness the power of generations. And I think it's gonna get, I think it's gonna get defined, I think, spell, check's still gonna tell me I'm spelling it wrong when I type it in, but I think it's gonna get addiction. It Speaker 2 00:01:30 Still tells me that Speaker 1 00:01:31 Lou, after I wrote Speaker 2 00:01:32 The book, I finally had to reprogram it Speaker 1 00:01:34 Exactly. Of telling me that I'm sure you were Tara looking at the red squidly line. Tell me where the concept came from. Speaker 2 00:01:41 So as I mentioned, I began my career as a professor almost 20 years ago. So I was, had just turned 26 years old, which is relatively young, um, to be starting as a faculty member. And so I really think that was probably the origin point of this, this idea for me, I began when I was much closer in age to many of my students than most of my colleagues. So while I was learning a lot from my older colleagues, as most of us do getting lots of advice, great mentoring, I found myself very naturally turning to my students for input and Speaker 1 00:02:18 Interesting, uh, Speaker 2 00:02:20 Advice and answers to questions. It was a very natural strategy for me. Speaker 1 00:02:24 They were almost through closer cohort at that age. Speaker 2 00:02:27 They were, they were at that age. Yes. So, and, and, and I learned so much, it wasn't a stretch for me. And what I realized was that the learning was just as rich, but, but very different mm-hmm <affirmative> right. The nature of the input was very different in that direction. And so as I continued to go about my career, um, it was a strategy that I continued to utilize and I was so fascinated. You know, my, my background as an organizational psychology, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's what my degree is in mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so really just fascinated on how do we elevate learning? How, how do we leverage individual differences to create higher levels of performance? Those were all my areas of general interest. And I thought, you know, the way that's working for me is having this, this resource in every direction, in terms of different experiences, different kinds of expertise. Speaker 2 00:03:17 It was very clear to me, sort of standing in between those two different age groups, that there was so much potential. And I, I started to do research on it and then sort of at the same time began to get calls from industry when this is when our millennials were first moving into the workplace, people saying, can you please come talk to us about what to do about these millennials? You know, they were making everyone tear their hair out. And, and it was just seen as this big source of frustration. And so I thought, well, how interesting I wanna go in and see how other people are learning from the younger generation or how the younger generation is embracing learning from older. But, and, and that was not happening, Lou, that was not the, the vibe that was going on out there. It wasn't being viewed as this great opportunity. Speaker 2 00:03:59 It was being really viewed as, as something negative and frustrating. And so gen intelligence really stemmed from the work I've been doing for probably close to 15 years now, seriously, about how do we get smarter about this? Why don't we see age and generation as a form of diversity, the same way we view race and gender and, and ethnicity and all of those wonderful kinds of difference. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, for some reason, we have this missing link when it comes to age. So I thought that's, that's fascinating that we, this is the kind of diversity every organization has yet. We're not talking about it. We're not leveraging it at best. We're just getting frustrated by it. How do we change that conversation into something positive and how do we create an opportunity out of what we're seeing as a thread? And so the term gen intelligence, um, I'm glad that you had that reaction when people hear it, what it means. So that's, that's really where it came from. Speaker 1 00:04:57 And it probably wasn't many years. I, I didn't think about generational diversity, the way you wrote about it until I read what you wrote. I'm 61. It isn't like, I wasn't, it wasn't in front of me. It was in front of me, but I just didn't think about it as like, well, yeah, of course we'll get into this, but you think about what it means to be part of a generation, the things that influence you, generationally, what you see, how you think about what you see, right? And if that varies by generations, it's a huge source of divert of diverse thought. And possibly this is part to your point, potentially a lot of knowledge and a lot of power within a team or within an organization. But I think you gonna hit the, the nail on the head. When you said we've got four or five generations that are coming together in workplaces, we're missing something, we're missing an opportunity. So, you know, the show is called. I see what you mean. It's about how the aha moment that sometimes gets us on the same page. Thinking about, and talking about generations in the workplace, it offers a lot to get on the same page about tell us, tell us how you define gen intelligence. I think the, the words very suggestive of what it means, but how you define it. And then we'll go from there. Speaker 2 00:06:10 I define it as a collaborative kind of intelligence. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> the potential that lies in intergenerational learning and collaboration and the opportunity that sits with understanding that every generation has something to teach as well as something to learn. So it's about changing the way we're having the conversation. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's about a more positive, constructive frame. And it's also about the idea that we need to be collaborating rather than competing when we're thinking about people mm-hmm <affirmative> across those generational, uh, gaps. Speaker 1 00:06:45 Mm-hmm <affirmative> I like that a collaborative intelligence. Uh, are you familiar with the knowledge illusion? Why we never think alone? Speaker 2 00:06:54 I don't think so. I'll write it down. Speaker 1 00:06:56 It's it's written by a couple scholars and what they say, what they claim in the book is that knowledge is actually shared. So when you said collaborative intelligence, that that came to my mind, because to me, what I think of when I read your work is an emergent property from the conversations. If you talk across generations intelligently, right? If you talk productively across generations, things come out of that, that perhaps wouldn't have come from people of a same generation talking to one another. So talking across them, something comes out of it. That's highly collaborative. It's, it's almost the, you know, it's part of the, the sort of the essence of what it means to be collaborative and it's creative, right? Yes. There's a creativity in that. And probably a lot of juice. You tell a lot of stories in the book, which I like about the, the work you do with some organizations. And it can be very inspiring when you, like, you're having a conversation, maybe you've led the conversation, maybe you haven't, but when people have that aha moment and they realize they can collaborate and not compete, and there's kind of a flow of energy that comes, tell me if you haven't, if you don't see it that way, that's how I've experienced these kinds of things. Speaker 2 00:08:08 Yeah, absolutely. And I think the important thing there is that it can be that way, but often it isn't right. And that's what we are, we're trying to, to change. So the research shows, there's not a lot surprisingly of, of research on multi-generational workplaces, mm-hmm <affirmative> and sort of the, the pitfalls and the opportunities, but what is out there is very well done. And if we leave people to their own devices and you obviously are hiring people across ages and generations, it will actually end up being more likely frustrating and full of conflict and miscommunication for a couple of reasons. And one is that we tend to do what's called age polarization at work. So we tend to gravitate towards people. We perceive to be quote like us mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, that's human nature, right? Of course, lots of research to support that. And one very visible sign of that is of course, age, as well as sort of your age cohort. Speaker 2 00:09:01 So people that are probably moving into the organization around the same time, as you tend to not always, but tend to be similar in age group to you. And so those are the people. If you look at your closest work colleague, they tend to be relatively close in age to you. And so it doesn't happen naturally that we're working closely and intentionally with people who are substantially older or younger, unless someone or our organization has proactively taken steps to make that happen. And so if we just leave people to their own devices, we don't get that meaningful interaction. And we end up getting, you know, sort of the things we stereotypically associate with generational conflict, stereotypes, biases, generalizations. So what I love and, and what, you know, of course as an academic, but then also as a consultant, you know, I wanna keep my footed, both, both worlds there mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's supported by research, but practically we also see this happening is not only can we decrease the tension and frustration and sort of neutralize that, but if we have a proactive strategy, we can actually not only neutralize it, but reverse it mm-hmm <affirmative>. Speaker 2 00:10:08 And what I mean by that is we can get, as you said, that innovation multi-generational workplaces that have a proactive strategy that are managing that kind of diversity. Well, you're you see the same results you would find with other kinds of diversity mm-hmm <affirmative>. So for example, lower turnover. So right now with the great resignation, right, doesn't matter, you know, talent across all ages is gonna be more likely to stay. If they feel their contribution, their perspective, their experience is valued and appreciated. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, greater innovation, better adaptability to change higher performance, uh, higher engagement, better team performance, all those sort of wishlist things for organizations. Yeah. But we have to actually have a strategy. We can't just assume it's going to work itself out. Speaker 1 00:10:55 Good point. I like that autopilot. We know where that takes us. I want to ask you also though, to define or describe what a generation is. You do very well in the book for those who haven't read the book yet. <laugh> how would you Speaker 2 00:11:09 Describe it right yet? Thank you. That's the keyword. Um, so a generation is social construction, of course, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative>, it's, it's something that we created to help us make sense. And, and at its core, it's a group of people that grow up in a common period of time. So roughly 15 to 20 years here in the us is how we, we tend to define a generation. There are all kinds of different formative events that we use to help determine the cut points of a generation. And it is more art than science sometimes. So it's this idea of growing up in a common period of time with a group of people you experience really substantial, whether it's social, cultural, political, economic events, or forces during this, what we call formative phase of your life. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so age, maybe five to, to 20. And we know that if you experience something during that sort of formative phase, it will have a much stronger effect on you, your attitudes, your behavior, the rest of your life than if you experience it. Speaker 2 00:12:10 You know, when you're 40, when you're 60 mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so we look at that phase and we say, what are the formative events that unify, or that we can point to that really mark a generation. And then we create this idea of this cohort. And so, you know, a great example would be, uh, so the, the pandemic has affected us all. Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, if we take gen Z who were born 1997 to roughly 2012, we're, we're still kind of waiting to get the cut date on that. This is largely the generation whose education was disrupted by COVID mm-hmm <affirmative> right. We had a few of our older gen Z that had maybe just put their foot into the workplace. But for the most part, these were kids who were sent home from school and spent the next year plus learning in their house. Speaker 2 00:12:57 Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. That's a huge formative event. Of course, we all were impacted by COVID. But having that be what marked your childhood, right, will have a more profound effect on the way they see the world, their place in it, their, their comfort with risk, their level of independence, all of those things. And of course not to mention the management and leadership shift, we're seeing now about what does it actually even mean to go to work will completely redefine what opportunities and, and how work really is present in their lives. So a generation I always say is, is a layer of your identity. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, and I really have pushed hard in my work to try to avoid stereotypes mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I never claim that a generation is going to describe everyone born in a 15 or 20 year period of time. It's one layer of your identity. Speaker 2 00:13:46 Right. And what I mean by that is it's not everything, but it's not nothing. So of course, we're gonna take your generation, but we're also gonna take your age, which is connected, but separate, you could be an older or younger baby boomer, for example. Right. Right. You could be an older gen Z that had just started your first job when the pandemic hit, or you could have been nine. Right. Right. So that's very different. Right. Um, but then also things like gender and race and, and cultural identities. Yes. So globally generations mean something different. So I was doing a workshop recently where a friend of mine who does D E and I said, you know, you could look at it as a comma, not a period. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so your generation, and then everything else together forms your world perspective. But, but that's really what we're talking about. And I think where, where it hits us the most in the workplace is we have common needs across all regions. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> we all wanna be respected. We all have a need to be connected, et cetera, et cetera. But what generations do is it, it marks how norms change over time. So what does it mean? What does success mean to me as a gen Xer, as compared to what it meant to my parents who are baby boomers. Right, right. That could be something fundamentally different. Speaker 1 00:14:56 Right? You said generations experience such things, respect, competence, autonomy. But, and what I thought was generations express that in, in somewhat unique ways doesn't mean, yes, there's a hard line between them or a wall between them, but they could express that in different ways, which is, like you said, left to our own devices. We could score those differences, or we could want to, you know, sort of squash those differences. But if we look at it a different way, and a lot of what you talk about is a mindset shift. Speaker 2 00:15:27 Right. And I think if you, so, you know, I know you always wanna leave your listeners with something actionable. And, and, and I think that's one of the things where, where we get caught up on is maybe we see an, a behavior mm-hmm <affirmative> and to us it seems wrong or inappropriate mm-hmm <affirmative> or confusing. And so our immediate reaction, right. Sort of our, our human reaction mm-hmm <affirmative> is to judge that is inappropriate or wrong. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And if we can take a step back from that and say, well, I'm a, I'm looking at that through my own lens. Mm-hmm <affirmative> is there another way to evaluate it? That's one of the tools we give in the book. Yes. So, you know, for me, like a great parallel is if you're traveling to a, a place you'd never been before, you're traveling to another culture country, mm-hmm <affirmative>, you might see a behavior and it would strike you as rude or inappropriate or strange, but only because you don't actually understand it. Speaker 2 00:16:24 Sure. Right. But, but as you're there longer, as you ask questions, or you do research, you begin to understand that maybe it means something entirely different than what you thought. And so if, if we think about generations as a different kind of culture, it's very helpful in saying, oh, if I could use that same mindset yes. Or put the same amount of work into saying. And so the tool I love to tell people, which is very easy is to, you know, when you're hit by something that you don't understand and you feel yourself coming into judgment, you know, just saying, can you help me understand? Right. Right. So even something as simple as like you're at a meeting and a bunch of your younger colleagues take out laptops, right. This happens to me. I'm 45. I love my laptop. I'm all about technology. But when I see my students take out laptops in a meeting or in class, I still have this inherent sort of negative reaction, like, hello, we're having a meeting. Speaker 2 00:17:18 Like, why are your laptops out? And so, and this is what I do for a living. Right. So I, I will say like, help me understand what the laptops are for. Like, I'm not saying they can't have 'em, I'm not saying it's wrong, but I'm letting 'em know that I need more context. And of course, they'll say, oh, I'm, I'm on a Google doc. I'm taking minutes. I'll share 'em with everybody. And then suddenly it's not a problem anymore. Right. So substitute your sort of confusing generational moment there. And, and, and just ask, like, can you help me understand, cuz I'm sure people will be more than happy to, to provide, you know, some Speaker 1 00:17:52 Context, it's a very human thing to do about generations, about gender, about race. It doesn't matter about family members. <laugh>, you know, we have we're wired and we just have reactions. I love the phrase you use though, coming into judgment. Sometimes it comes more quickly than others, but you can, if you paying attention to yourself, you can feel it. Come on. Mm-hmm <affirmative> you tell a lot of stories about this. You tell a great story about the, I think it was a medical setting doctors and, and maybe young interns or residents taking out their phones. Yes. I mean, it's, it, it is kinda like the story you just told, which is they weren't, they weren't making dinner reservations. They weren't, they weren't, you know, looking at TikTok, they were looking things up, cuz that's the device that they used that's they grew up with, they were taking notes on it. They were looking things up. And you told a story like about whoever it was, it was leading that conversation in a, I think it was in a hospital room Speaker 2 00:18:48 And yeah, so it was a yeah, exactly. It was a nursing manager. <laugh> who was just expressing, I had given out some scenarios just for discussion and, and she was just very stuck on the idea that um, patients were coming in to meetings. You know, you always see that fine on the wall. Please do not use your cell phone when in here with that. Right. You know, I should take a picture of that next time I'm in the doctor's office <laugh> but she said, they, they do, they take this out. It's so rude. You know, they're not paying attention. It's so rude was like the immediate conclusion. And so that was when, you know, I just said, okay, well the phones are out, but we, we just, you know, we had these practices, as you mentioned in the book and the first one is identify assumptions. So immediately her assumption was phone means rude Speaker 1 00:19:31 Distraction, not paying attention, not paying attention. Speaker 2 00:19:32 Right. And she didn't realize that she had gone from like, we don't zero to 60 on that really quickly. And, and it was her colleagues that I sort of en engaged to help her in. The second practice there is that we use in the book is adjust your lens. Right. Is it possible that you could, you there's a different way to see this? Yes. That would lead to a different conclusion. Yes. Right. And, and so it was great for her to just sort of, even if she nudged just a little bit, you know, that she still didn't like it, but the fact that it never occurred to her that somebody might be taking notes on her phone. Cause she doesn't take notes on her phone. No. Right. And, and, and it's just those little nudges, I think that can get us closer to at least neutralizing some of the frustration we feel on this. Speaker 1 00:20:20 Well, the point is, what we're talking about is so fundamental to how our brains work and to human processing and behavior that we're talking about in the context of generations. But it's, it, it it's, it's without context, it happens all the time. And so to be aware of it is the first step to doing anything about it. You can do nothing if you want, but to be aware of it, at least give you the chance to, um, gain some different understanding. Let's talk about the four practices. You call them four practices of gen intelligence and you organize them into two, two twos, which I think is really smart, breaking down barriers to generational, intergenerational attention and bias, and then building up, uh, capacity, you call it capacity to leverage the intergenerational strength and power. So in breaking down barriers, there's what you just said, resist assumptions. And we're talking about being aware of your own, um, and adjust Speaker 2 00:21:13 Yes. Being aware of your own mm-hmm <affirmative> right. So just a couple more things on those first two, and then, then definitely can move to the next ones. But you know, I, I think identifying and resisting assumptions, it is the things like one of the tools we suggest is an assumption audit. So that's something you's great do even, you know, we're going, um, you know, if you're around family this summer and you know, it's not just at the workplace, I know that's what we're talking about. Not at all, but, but you know, even across, you know, your holiday dinner table or whatever it Speaker 1 00:21:41 Is, absolutely. Speaker 2 00:21:42 You know, what assumptions or automatic sort of bias do you feel yourself having when you see behavior that doesn't make sense to you. Right. And it can be older or younger, right. That you're sort of jumping to these conclusions in yourself in, or in other people. But then the other thing though, that's been really interesting is I've had these conversations over the last year is, is identifying and resisting assumptions is about staying away from stereotypes. But it's also about being aware that you might be assuming other people are interpreting things the same way. Speaker 1 00:22:16 Very much. So, Speaker 2 00:22:18 So right now I'm having a lot of conversations with leaders about how does everyone that works for you define flexibility, right. Or balance, right? So if we are even just doing a return to work strategy, everybody's sort of biggest challenge right now, what does that look like? Mm-hmm <affirmative> if we say we wanna give our, our employees flexibility mm-hmm <affirmative> well, what does that mean to somebody who's 25 versus someone who's 55. Right. And if we assume everybody has a common understanding and definition were wrong, so kind of, you know, you, you can hit it in terms of stereotypes, but also in terms of what am I assuming everyone sees the same way I do, which gets us into that second practice of adjusting the lens. Yes. And even if you just pause and say, I'm really curious when I say the word flexibility, Speaker 1 00:23:07 What do you hear? What like for you? Yeah. Right. Speaker 2 00:23:10 Or, you know, when we talk about trying to make sure everybody has balance, what does, what does balance look like for you right now? Yeah, yeah. Um, or I was on a call yesterday with an organization who's really struggling with parents. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so the fact that an older, older generations, um, that tend to be in more senior leadership at this company, transparency means something very different for them than it means to their youngest workers. And so they've, they've kind of hit some walls around that. So that's, that's the idea of those first two is, is let's figure out where we're miscommunicating, where we're getting wired cross, where we're assuming things that with a little bit more time and effort might be relatively easy to clear up. So whether it's a help me understand or tell me what this means to you, is there another way to think about this? Speaker 2 00:23:59 I love the question too. Like what do you think the biggest stereotypes are about your generation? Mm-hmm <affirmative> like imagine asking a baby boomer and a gen Z, that conversation mm-hmm <affirmative> right at your summer picnic or whatever it is. It's just, it's fascinating. It is to see. So those would be the first two. Right. And, and, and hopefully through those, we break down some of that tension, we're at a neutral, but that doesn't mean we're actually leveraging or benefiting right. From, from that diversity. And so the second two are about how do we do that? Mm-hmm <affirmative> in the third practice there we talk about strengthening trust mm-hmm <affirmative>. So if we're kind of caught in this, us versus them mentality that we're somehow in competition, right. In the workplace, like younger people, taking jobs from older people or older people standing in the way of younger people, having opportunities or, or whatever it might happen to be. Speaker 2 00:24:50 There's not a lot of trust there. Right. Instead we're all operating from sort of a position of threat. I wrote a piece that came out last week and NBC about, and I know it'll be a little later once this airs, but it was about the pilot shortage, which all of us, oh, yeah. Traveled this summer, our feeling right. And it was about whether mandatory retirement ages should still exist in any profession. And of course they do when it comes to commercial airline pilots, it's more asking the question. I don't know that I have an answer, but it was really saying, is this about safety exclusively? Or is it about wanting to make sure younger pilots have opportunities? You know? And it was a very interesting thing to research. And if we're all operating from a, you know, they have all kinds of problems to solve in the travel industry right now. Speaker 2 00:25:34 But if, if everybody's not trusting that they're all on the same team, right. That they're all on a shared mission. I think, you know, the, the focus of your podcast right, is about sort of, you know, what, getting on the same page. So what's our shared goal, right? Because if you believe that the older and younger people, you work with have a shared mission or goal with you that we're all here for the same purpose, it becomes less threatening to be open to different ways of getting there. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because maybe that's not the way I would get there. But as long as I feel confident that you, you know, our destination, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I'm a little less frightened that, that your approach doesn't look the way my approach does. So, so strengthening trust is about building that psychological safety. It's making people feel often for older people, it's making them feel safe to ask questions, right. Speaker 2 00:26:27 That they don't have to know everything that they're open. They can, they can be open to learning from younger people. Sure. And for younger people that they're allowed to have input that they're allowed to have voice that they're not gonna be viewed as entitled because they are contributing a, a perspective or an idea. Um, so that's the third practice strengthening trust in my, my go-to tool for that one that can be used, you know, next week when you go to work is sort of laying out as a leader, younger or older, mm-hmm, <affirmative> sort of, you know, this is our goal. Like, can we all agree that we're here to, to do X right. And get everybody sort of looking in the same direction? And then the go-to strategy I love is to say, how would you do that? Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. And if I ask that question to a 20 year old student in my class, or I ask it to a 70 year old colleague, I'm gonna learn something. Speaker 2 00:27:18 And there's a difference between asking for input. Right. And letting them just make the decision like that. That's been really fascinating because I think we're afraid if we ask for input, the perception's gonna be, we're handing over the keys and, and that's not what we're doing. We're saying I'm interested in your perspective. I wanna learn from you. And this magical thing happens, Lou. So if I say to a 20 year old, okay. So we're all here to create this amazing new program would love to hear your thoughts on how you would do that. So suddenly they have voice, right? They feel seen, they feel heard, they feel respected. I'm gonna learn something, right. It might not be, you know, a, a well polished idea. It might need all kinds of feedback. It might not even be in the right sort of, you know, hemisphere of what we, we want to work on. Right. Possibly we'll be able to do, but there's gonna be something good in there. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And then if I say that, all of a sudden that person is much more likely to wanna listen to me. Yes. Whether it's my feedback, whether it's my oh, Speaker 1 00:28:23 Your ideas Speaker 2 00:28:23 Advice, whether it's my ideas, because I first was interested enough to listen to them. Right. And it happens in both directions. So yes. As you said, this isn't, it's, it's just good leadership. Right. But when we are talking about different ages, we sometimes don't realize how important that is. So that's the, the third practice of strengthening trust. And then the final one is sort of the culmination. We call it expanding the pie mm-hmm <affirmative>. But all that really means is we can accomplish more together than we can individually. So is it possible that intergenerational collaboration could be good for all generations, right. By championing the value that an older and a younger person and everyone in between brings we're all gonna benefit from that, but it's not a win, lose kind of proposition. Speaker 1 00:29:07 Right. Right. And I like, uh, I like your references in that too interest based negotiation, because that's my background. Yeah. And, and, uh, the Harvard, you know, Fisher and Yu and the Harvard, uh, negotiation law, uh, negotiation program. And that's where, and, and that's, I important point though, is that we can see situations as win loses, and we can see situations as narrow in the idea of expanding the pie and, and focusing on interests for mutual gain opens up when it goes well, it opens up the conversation and broadens things exactly. And gives you more options and more ideas. And it all ties together because if you're having an effective conversation like that, you're probably building some trust in some relationships. I loved your ask me about idea in there, because depending on, I mean, that could be a fun icebreaker, but it could be more, it could be more, um, substantive than just an icebreaker and, and you there's so much, I think there's so much knowledge resident in people that doesn't come out in any given conversation. If you change the conversation, you have a chance of getting these things out and then it can be put to use. And so resisting assumptions, adjusting the lens, strengthening, trust, these things, all sort of connect right. And weave together in a way that works. Speaker 2 00:30:25 Yeah. I mean, I love, you know, as, as we've gone around and talked to different different professionals and different companies, I'm always searching to see how people are either activating this or what's been working for them and in practice. And so you, you brought up the, ask me about exercise from the book. So, you know, it's just, like you said, can be a simple, like, just letting people know that you have some skill or talent mm-hmm, <affirmative> that you'd love to share with them. And like you said, it can be fun. It doesn't have to be work relevant necessarily. But I was talking to someone the other day who, uh, we were talking about the idea of, uh, mutual mentoring, right? So this idea of, of pairing up people to learn from each other older and younger and, and, you know, mentoring programs can be really challenging and difficult to get buy in. Speaker 2 00:31:08 And so when you can make it informal, I think that's always a fun way to pilot it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so one of the ideas they had, which I, I wanted to share was creating like a, a biweekly lunch and learn mm-hmm <affirmative> where they just would randomly choose two or three people from their staff who were gonna present sort of a skill or talent. And so it wasn't age specific because it was a random selection. Yeah. And so in doing that, like, it was kind of right now, we all need lots of like team, team building and bonding, whether it's happening in person or over zoom or whatever people are doing, but people are kind of wanting to bring back that, that cohesion mm-hmm <affirmative> and in those kinds of things. And so they said it was really fun because it was normalizing that of course we can learn from anyone, right. Speaker 2 00:31:54 It wasn't sort of hauling out their senior people as the S and, and only people that can be teaching, or often we, we course correct too much the other direction and are sort of, you know, bringing out our youngest people as the people we all need to learn from when in fact both of those things are true. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and everywhere in between. So I thought that was really fun, you know, just sort of setting up this program where we're gonna learn from each other, because knowledge can come from anywhere. Um, I love that idea. Speaker 1 00:32:22 Well, and then you could learn something about someone that actually you, you, would've no way of anticipating, could be task or project related. So I might learn something about you and say, Megan, we're gonna talk afterward because we're having this problem on the project. That's something you said made me think, right. That's gonna emerge from these conversations, which is part of the beauty and the power of them. And you don't get at that stuff without those conversations. Speaker 2 00:32:47 Well, and what it does too, right. Is it helps us break down our, our, our go to, if we don't have those kinds of interactions. Yeah. That's a good point. Is we revert to people as sort of character pictures or stereotypes, right. It's way easier to say, okay. Boomer to the 68 year old person in my office behind their back, if I don't know them, but if I hear them share this amazing experience they've had, or this amazing talent they have, that I, I have that talent or passion or interest as well, you know, that's, of course we know through all the great work and diversity and inclusion that, that you replace stereotypes with personal connections. And then we don't have to use, you know, a, a stereotype or a bias as a shortcut because we don't have anything else to replace it. And so by replacing those generalizations of what does it mean to be a millennial? Well, it was very easy for me to replace my stereotypes about millennials or gen Zs, because I work with them every single day. Right, right. I'm, I'm around that age group every day. And I see countless examples right. Of them not fitting those stereotypes at all. And so that's easy for me, but not everybody interacts on that level with people in such different age groups than them. Speaker 1 00:34:07 And, and that interaction gives you the opportunity to replace the stereotype, the assumption, the bias with a person and, and, and to go, okay, this is, this is, and then you have a relationship with a person, which is where we want to be, whether it's two people and as a couple, or whether it's, you know, five or seven on a team, you get more out of yourself and each other when, when you get to that point. And it's not very far to get to really, it's not hard to get to some of the things you're talking about are really straightforward, very doable don't require any special knowledge or skill or expertise. It isn't like you gotta go learn coding. Did you just have it? It's just another way of having a conversation. It's maybe a different question to ask or a different device to use. Speaker 1 00:34:51 You could use the ask me about as a device, but it works when it surfaces these kinds of things. None of this stuff is very difficult. This show being about getting on the same page. I have a working definition of getting on the same page, which I, I called a working definition because I'm still working on it. I think it leaves some things out, but I tried to get the idea down to something that was very granular and essential agreeing to take the next step together. So it's very small in scope. It's not very grand. It's not like we're on the same page. And people have had experiences of real alignment. PRI decor people have had experiences of being on a team that just gelled, right. You hear different. We hear certain words come together in sync, um, on the same way of length. And there's a feeling that goes with that. Speaker 1 00:35:38 That's very, really is very palpable. I think that's being on the same page too, but because that seemed not so operational <laugh>, I was like, well, what, what would it be? What would it mean? And I came up with agreeing to take the next step together because what I, what I find in my work as a consultant in organizations over the years is people are in some situation and they're working together and they're not sure what next step to take together, or they don't agree what next step to take together. And if they can't agree, even if the next step Megan is provisional, it could be to test something right to pilot or, uh, simulate something just to see what you'll learn and come back and, and talk about the additional information you're on the same page for that activity. Regardless, you can react to the definition, but we're talking a lot about, I think you've written a lot about getting on the same page without necessarily talking about getting on the same page, but just what are your, what are your thoughts on gen intelligence and getting on the same page? Speaker 2 00:36:40 I think it's what happens when we get sort of moved from this idea of tension or, or competition to one of collaboration. So to me, it's really what we're trying to do in those second two practices. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> where it's all about shared mission, right? To the same page. To me means we're both, we're all pointed in the same direction. And when we can understand that, then it allows us to kind of lower our defenses and say, oh, well, if you're heading the same place I'm heading, then I would love to hear your idea of how to get there. Maybe my idea's not working right. Or I, I would love to know more about your thoughts, your tools. It's less threatening to me because I'm still gonna end up where I wanna go. And so to me, getting on the same page is, is looking at each other in the, you know, looking in the same direction as each other. Speaker 2 00:37:39 And I think that is, is so critical, um, to getting on the, the same page. And I, I also think it's, it's sort of the, the mantra of intelligence is that every generation has something to teach in something to learn. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So if we just remembered that, then I don't have to know everything. And I also am more than, you know, capable or, or valuable in terms of having something to teach. And I, I feel like that's the same page. I would want everybody to get on and to have organizations sort of normalize that in their culture. Speaker 1 00:38:14 That concludes the first of two episodes. Megan and I recorded join us next week when we discuss Megan's definition of getting on the same page for a gen intelligence, gen intelligence and organizational culture, the fascinating impact of digitization on generations in the workplace. And here's a bonus. Megan calls me out for an age bias comment I made, which completely escaped me when I said it you'll love it. I did.

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