I love â€˜AHAâ€™ moments.
I was sitting at my desk the other day, instant messaging my mother and she was going off on her â€˜Why donâ€™t you ever write to me?â€™ tangent again. And, once again, I was instant messaging back that â€˜I am writing to you. Right this moment. We are writing back and forth . . . . .â€™ Of course this was falling on deaf ears (or perhaps blind eyes) as my mother believes that a physical letter, stamp firmly affixed, is the only thing that qualifies as valid communication in her very small world. As I was sending this message to her the phone rang.
It was one of my clients, calling me with yet another direct mail marketing idea he felt certain to work. I then spent the next hour and a half trying to explain that no one sends, let alone reads yellow postcards much anymore, â€˜An opt-in email newsletter will pull much better,â€™ I kept saying. â€˜What is opt-in?â€™ he kept asking. I hung up the phone exasperated. â€˜I donâ€™t know why I ever got into business for myself!â€™ I yelled exasperated, to no one in particular.
â€˜Why did you go into business for yourself?â€™ my wife asked, peeking through the doorway, smirking that little smirk that means â€˜I already know the answer to this one.â€™
â€œYou know why. All the great sales reps had moved on. Pretty hard to manage a bunch of kids who want to do nothing all day and get paid big bucks for it. That and the fact that computers had taken over the entire . . . .â€™ Just then my daughter entered the room. She was holding a little electronic device I had never seen before and was wearing a shirt upon which was emblazoned â€˜OMGâ€™.
â€˜What does that mean?â€™ I asked. â€˜Youâ€™re hopeless,â€™ she replied dryly and walked out.
â€˜I have to review this book,â€™ I muttered to myself and closed the door. I sat down. Opened the book. And it was precisely then that I had the â€˜AHAâ€™ moment. Not just any old â€˜ahaâ€™ moment. This particular â€˜AHAâ€™ moment changed my perception of my very life.
â€˜Every Generation Needs A New Revolutionâ€™, by Linda Thompson, is a book that should be mandated as required reading by the Federal Bureau of Good Business Practices for any person in the United States who attains the age of 30. That is an opinion, certainly. However, in that this is my review, I am permitted to voice my opinion.
I like the title of this book, but it is the subtitle that tells the tale: â€˜How six generations, across nine decades, can find understanding, respect and peaceful co-existence.â€™
Now, I must admit, it is seldom that I read every single word in any book while doing a review. However, in this case, I did.
It is even more rare for me to run out of the office to find my wife so that I might read huge sections of the book to her aloud. I did that also.
And it is never that I finish a book and then immediately begin to read it from the beginning again. I must admit that I did.
Linda Thompson has managed to open our collective eyes here in a way that has really never been done before. She first defines clearly for us six generational styles. These include the Veterans, the Silent Generation, the Boomers, the X Generation, the Y Generation and the Millenials.
However, her extremely detailed definitions go far beyond mere description. She spends a great deal of time describing how the members of these groups relate to the world in which they live. She details in minute detail why they react to this environment in certain ways and also how they perceive and interact with members of the other groups in that same environment.
She vividly describes the forces that drive each of these groups. Their shared personality traits. The common defining historical events of their lives. Their collective core values. Even their mutual tastes in music, movies and books.
For example, as a Boomer, one of my core values is self growth. My mother on the other hand will perhaps hold duty and respect for others above all things. Meanwhile my daughter will be concerned with self-reliance.
If my father informs us that he is going to run to the corner store for a gallon of milk, my motherâ€™s first reaction will hand him 50 cents. I will pull out $5. My daughter will, of course, advise him against such foolish action.
Now put the all of us in a room together and what you get is. . . well. . . very funny. This has not been lost on Linda. Lindaâ€™s style of writing takes a subject that could be dry and makes it wildly entertaining. I have never seen her speak in public, but I believe that if she merely stood at the podium and read verbatim from the book she would have them rolling in the aisles. (Do people still do that? . . . I mean . . . roll around in the aisles?)
This brings us to the workplace.
It is in the workplace that the generational clash becomes not only a personality clash, but also a productivity problem and a monetary issue. Generational issues, on the small scale, can slow down productivity. On a large scale, these inherent differences can destroy companies.
For instance, during a meeting my boss, being a Silent, may present a business problem in a practical way. In that I am a Boomer, my outlook on the problem may be more optimistic than realistic. The Xâ€™er sitting next to me on the other hand will most likely have a very pessimistic attitude towards the thing, while some smart-alecky (is that still a word?) ambitious Gen Y will be trying to take over. And so, while the CEO will certainly treat us all with respect, I will most likely form a team (as long as I head the thing) the Xâ€™er will refuse to commit to anything at all and the sneaky little Gen Y will be kissing up to the boss in an attempt to appear loyal.
Does this sound like just another day at the office? If so, that is precisely the point.
Linda Thompson shows us not only how these factors affect us in the workplace but, more importantly, she shows us how we can begin to understand the forces that drive these diverse groups and begin to use these very differences to accomplish our mutual goals. Her insight into these issues is uncanny. Her ability to clearly communicate these concepts is refreshing. Her writing style is very clear and very much to the point. She vividly demonstrates how managers can then become more effective by understanding how a particular group prefers to be managed.
I used to believe I preferred to work alone because I was hard to get along with. I now understand that, like most Boomers, I like to work alone because I dislike conflict, I am sensitive to feedback, I am rebellious, anti-establishment, I work too long and I simply love to work alone. Linda Thompson helped me attain this â€˜AHAâ€™ moment. All this time I believed I was just a knucklehead. (what is a knucklehead, anyway?)
This book bursts the covers with information that any manager can use beginning the very moment the book is opened. We can begin to understand how groups of people view the workplace. Rather than trying to get others to fit into a rigid standard we have set as managers, we can instead incorporate the best each generation holds into that very same framework. It is not the person who needs to change. It is instead the framework that must adapt and grow to encompass the individuals found therein.
Whatâ€™s wrong with these kids today? Linda shows us that the answer to that question is â€˜Not a thing.â€™ These â€˜kids todayâ€™ are those who will hold our positions tomorrow. We can resist this at our peril, or we can incorporate the best that each generation offers and use this. It is no small matter. For the companies with the foresight to incorporate the best these â€˜kidsâ€™ have to offer will be the companies that still exist in the future.
We Boomers say that the Xâ€™ers are not loyal, have no work ethic, are not committed, are not focused and have no respect. The Xâ€™ers say that we are too political, are workaholics, need validation and are self-righteous. Which is correct? Linda Thompson shows us clearly that the answer to that question is that both of us are correct.
OMG! Look at the time. EOD. G2G, LOL.
If you donâ€™t know what I just said, you had best get a copy of â€˜Every Generation Needs A New Revolutionâ€™ right away and get caught up with current events.
Every Generation Needs a New Revolution is scheduled to be available April 1, 2008. Linda can be contacted through her web site at www.lifepathsolutions.biz or 480-899-8647