I recently heard a speaker share stories about his four month old granddaughter. He was marveling at how she was a yoga expert, able to grab her toes and stick them in her mouth or pull her leg behind her head. Such exploits, he noted, would put him in the hospital in traction, but for his granddaughter it was the most natural movement.

I think it is a good metaphor for generational differences in the workplace.

The younger or less experienced people bring to the organization an agility that is hard to replicate. They are able to do things, with ease, that would throw more seasoned workers for a loop. They can maneuver — through social networks and technology, but also through many other thought processes — with inherent and instinctive grace. 

And yet, they have a hard time thriving on their own.

Like Phil’s granddaughter, the organizational infants need structure and guidance from their elders. The seasoned employees can keep the newer ones from putting their foot in their mouth when it wouldn’t be a charming kid thing to do. The young need a context and framework to anchor their thinking and some experience to point out the known food sources. 

People at all stages of the life cycle bring gifts and abilities that only occur in one phase of time. Embrace the generation you are in and all that it offers.

beth triplett

Comments by Phil Kramer at Dubuque Community Schools Opening Session 8/23/16

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