Hannah Ubl

All Voices Matter Collaboration Across Generations

I ’ll never forget my first day of kindergarten. With new backpack and light-up sneakers, I sat down at my assigned seat and looked at a giant purple sign that read, “There is no I in team.”This would become the motto of elementary school, middle school and high school. “Collaboration” was my anthem. Most Millennials who grew up in the U.S. probably had a similar experience. From a young age, we were taught the power of working in teams, because two heads really were better than one and working indepen- dently hindered innovation. My Xer col- league laughs a bit too loudly at this: “That’s adorable! When I grew up, our motto was, ‘If you want something done right, do it your- self.’” Our opposing mindsets are not unique. In a world demanding us to collaborate con- stantly online and in person, it’s never been more important to learn how to communicate in a way that every generation can hear each other. Here are some tips when collaborating across generations in the nonprofit world. Traditionalists Also known as the Greatest Generation, Traditionalists built this country from the ground up in the wake of a Depression and a World War. They devoted their lives to serving their country and those around them– neighborliness reigned as the generation was coming of age. The world was slower, devoid of numerous technological distractions, and a great person at the party was one who could tell excellent stories. They still have stories to share from a lifetime of professional and personal experiences. Other generations must find the opportunity to admit, “I don’t know

independence and honestly discussing when collaboration is beneficial. Millennials Millennials are collaborative by nature. They were raised in democratic home and school environments where everyone’s voice mattered. They matured in a circular world free, or at least mostly free, of hierarchy so they tend to thrive in an unstructured environment. Social media activism is a perfect example of Millennials harnessing the power of collaboration – look no further than the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. At work, find ways to offer a flexible, collaborative environment. If necessary, be clear with boundaries and Though just teenagers, Edgers are shaping up to be just as self-reliant as their parents. A generation raised on YouTube and Do-It-Yourself blogs, they don’t have the patience or desire to consistently come to collective decisions. Don’t underestimate the independent power of this socially active generation. Hannah Ubl is a generational expert, researcher, keynote speaker, and consultant for BridgeWorks, the company dedicated to bridging gaps in the workplace and marketplace since 1998. For the past year, she has delved into generational research on a global scale and is the head researcher on the next generation following Millennials and the impact they’ll have on the workplace. Her perspective helps organizations gain a deeper understanding of each other to build lasting, multi-generational partnerships. expectations. Gen Edgers

___” and ask about it. Traditionalists’ stories can foster discussion and collaboration sessions that ultimately build strong mentor relationships. Baby Boomers Boomers have redefined every life stage they’ve touched. The first generation to say, “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” is incredibly young at heart. For the first time, political and social leaders looked to teenagers to be the voice of change. At work, they challenged the status quo and mastered the art of navigating written and unwritten rules. When it came to collaboration, they knew how to gather necessary people to brainstorm on a topic, keep to an agenda and get the job done. If you are looking to collaborate with a Boomer (and you should, they are full of knowledge), respect their expectations. Write a detailed agenda, send it ahead of time and come prepared to discuss. Gen Xers Gen Xers are the most fiercely independent cohort in today’s workplace.The latchkey kid generation learned at a young age how to fend for themselves. They knew that getting things done alone equated to getting things done right. Xers bring that independence into the workplace, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to collaborate! They just want to do so at the most efficient time possible. Build trust with an Xer by respecting their

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