We’re working in a multigenerational world. It’s unprecedented—Never before have five generations coexisted in the workplace. It’s wonderful—Experience combined with fresh perspective drives innovation. And it’s quite a challenge—Blending disparate groups into cohesive, productive teams is rarely easy. But the opportunities are far greater, if leaders embrace the fact that today’s workforce requires of them exactly what they expect from their employees.
Boomers and the “silent generation” feel they’re being phased out, by technology and their younger, digital-native counterparts. Millennials believe they drew the short straw with the job market. Gen-Xers see themselves as the “sandwich” generation, often forgotten and ignored. Gen-Zers want to change the world but feel stymied by outdated practices. Beneath these cultural clashes, however, is a shared and very fundamental desire to “be heard.”
Reframing the Conversation Around Communication
Yes, the future of work is being shaped by artificial intelligence and many other advances in technology. But let’s put the machines aside. Humans – and those things that only humans can do, like lead, collaborate, trust, think creatively, mentor – are still very much at the core of business. It’s how we do these things that will continue to change. And at the end of the day, most of these things center on two-way, people-to-people communication.
I’m a Boomer. I’m also an executive leader of a successful, multigenerational team that is part of a global organization. And I’m an expert communicator who happens to be woman. Altogether, I offer unique perspectives on the future of work that I believe need more of our collective attention, discussion and action. Over the next few months, I plan to tug at several threads around what it will take to lead our teams and our businesses into the future, including:
Adapting to remote leadership and flexible work. It’s one thing to work remotely; it’s quite another to lead remotely. What are the new rules of engagement when flexibility is no longer a perk but a requirement?
Raising standards on soft skills. Today, these are the hard(er) skills to learn – and teach – but they’ve never been more critical. How do we close the skills gap, and prepare the next generation of leaders to better communicate, think creatively and strategically, be more empathetic and more?
Advocating for the next generation. Everyone benefits from having others in their corner. This is true in life and in business, no matter our role, years of experience or career path. Mentorship has shifted to sponsorship and advocacy. What are you doing to evolve the way you support the next generation?
Championing diversity in leadership. The world around us is changing, fast. It takes all types of people and experiences to make advances in business. In fact, better decisions are made by more diverse teams. How do we not only embrace diversity but foster it?
The future of work isn’t coming; it’s already here. And it’s up to us leaders to make sure we – and our teams – are ready to meet the challenges head on, today and tomorrow.