Quality Progress - July 2013 - 50

Career Corner BY Joseph D. Conklin an age-old Problem Tips for navigating a multigenerational workforce My coworker, Helen, is a member the years formed in my mind the notion of edged the value of venting your frustra- of Generation Y. I’m a “boomer,” a cohort “war stories” as a tried, true and valuable tions once in a while. But eventually, that didn’t get its own letter. When you communication technique for passing on you must stop venting and start doing meet Helen, the words that come to mind organizational wisdom to the younger something. are energetic, enthusiastic and extrovert- generation. ed. She doesn’t slow down for a second. To hear Helen associate negativity Get on their level with this phrase provoked my curiosity. I asked Helen how organizations should it is to hear certain phrases. I was in a I caught up with Helen and asked her to pass on their wisdom to younger staff. “I staff meeting once when Helen reported elaborate. learn best when I have mentors. I think The older I get, the more interesting on a recent leadership training class “I called them ‘war stories’ because this is the rule for young people. It is she attended. She disliked hearing the some of the attendees sounded as if easier to accept what older people have organizational war stories. The phrase they were fighting a war. They con- to say when they respect us first as a “war stories” takes me back to my first sumed the limited discussion time person. Ideally, bosses should invest at job after college. available just to complain about how least half their time being coaches and My boss was a retired lieutenant bad their jobs, bosses and coworkers not just telling people what to do without colonel from the U.S. Army who ar- were. None of them offered any solu- offering their guidance.” ranged first-line supervisor training for tions. Young people like me want to be When coaching younger generations a defense contractor. Many attendees part of the solution, not just hear about in the workforce, one size does not fit all. were ex-military, and one of the instruc- problems,” she said. “Each young person has a unique com- tors retired from the U.S. Air Force. He I admired her attitude, but I thought to munication and learning style. Bosses received glowing reviews because of his myself that it is not always clear whether who take the time to learn and reach out ability to pull old stories out of his mili- to change things or to leave them be. A to us on our wavelength will have our tary hat to reinforce the main points of wrong decision could be hazardous to ca- respect. At this point in my career, I’m the course. Similar experiences through reers and organizations. Helen acknowl- most interested in what I should learn to advance, either through promotions or lateral moves in the organization,” Helen said. Someday soon, Generation Y will sit at the head of the table. “Should the older generation regard the younger as apprentices and help them move from journeymen to masters of their craft?” I asked Helen. “Sounds like you get it,” she said. “Speaking for myself, young people are ready for challenges. Step back and throw us some. And take time to listen to us. My generation is used to switching priorities quickly when situations change rapidly. Our facility with technology means multitasking is more second nature to us.” 50 QP • www.qualityprogress.com http://www.qualityprogress.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - July 2013

Up Front
LogOn
Expert Answers
Keeping Current
Mr. Pareto Head
Feeling Connected
Take Charge
Full View
Reinventing Excellence
Innovation Imperative
Measure for Measure
Quality in the First Person
Standards Outlook
Career Corner
Statistics Roundtable
ASQ's Continuing Education and Professional Development Directory
QP Toolbox
QP Reviews
One Good Idea

Quality Progress - July 2013

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