Keith Kennedy of STUDIOS Architecture opened our July 29, 2015 leadership lunch with a story about his closest friend in the workplace while marketing director at Mancini Duffy: their COO who was more than fifty years his senior. A camaraderie between a Millennial and a Traditionalist, Keith talked about how the office treasured their pairing so much they were affectionately referred to as “work husbands” or even “TEITH”–a combination of “Ted” and “Keith”–because they were the next “Brangelina.”.
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Keith began the Leadership Lunch by providing an overview of the four different generations that are in the workplace today:
•Traditionalists, born between 1925 and 1945;
•Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964;
•Generation X, born between 1968 and 1980; and
•Millennials, born between 1981 and 2000.
Each generation is shaped by experiences that occurred in their lifetime, and the attendees were asked to separate into small groups to discuss major events they remember from their childhood and early adulthood. Traditionalists were largely influenced by the Great Depression and World War II, while the Baby Boomers remember the British Invasion and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Generation X was heavily impacted by the increasing awareness and education about AIDS, and Millennials were marked by the .COM boom and the events of September 11.
In addition to major world events, there are also overarching trends that permeate the workplace for each generation. From the Traditionalists to the Millennials, there has been a tremendous transition from the boss as the only voice to workplaces focused more on collaboration and input from all levels. Communication and technology have also changed how people work, from the Traditionalist method of issuing a memo for a meeting to the phone meetings of the Boomer generation and the virtual meetings of Generation X and Millennials.
After the overview of the four generations experiences within and outside of the workplace, Keith offered three tips to assist in bridging the gap among the different generations:
1) Put yourself in each other’s shoes.
Acknowledge where others’ are coming from, and think about why you may be asked to do something a certain way.
2) Leverage your differences.
When working with others, it’s important to establish your goal but let each person get to the end result in their own way.
3) Don’t hate.
New generations will enter the workforce, and generational differences are inevitable. It is important to be open to change, but don’t overlook the value of the knowledge that comes from previous generations.
After the presentation, a lively discussion and question-and-answer session ensued with people sharing different observations and challenges about a multigenerational office environment. One discussion was how to balance flexible work schedules and working from home when many important decisions are made during the 9AM to 6PM workday. Another was how to hire loyal people and retain them, and Keith suggested a check in every few months to see how the employees are feeling about their position and remind them that they are an integral part of your team.
Carolyn Schultz, marketing and business development manager of The Clarient Group, commented that, “Keith gave a good overview of the different generations, and the specific examples and advice he provided were very helpful.”
Keith Kennedy of STUDIOS Architecture was invited to speak at the monthly leadership lunch by Rhonda Cardone of Dewberry.