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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's and Baby Boomers

When Loyd and I met last, we discussed Millennials and Boomers on a quick puddle jumper as best we could over the loud engines.

As a refresher, over the last couple of months, Loyd and I have focused our discussions on overcoming generational differences in the workplace. In December, we discussed influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives. January’s discussion was geared towards advice to Boomers about Millennials, and February focused on advice to Millennials about Boomers.

Today we are meeting at the rental car terminal on our way to meet with a client on this very topic. Our client is experiencing tension in the workplace between what the client is referring to as “old school” and “new school” ways of thinking. Over the last couple of months, our client has fielded multiple meetings on the topic. Frustrated and noticing a dip in productivity and team morale, he called us in to quickly “nip this thing in the bud.”

Once we found ourselves to the rental car and got our wits about us, Loyd asked: “So as we are driving towards what could be an emotional mess, how are you thinking of approaching the perspectives of “old” and “new” school thinker/team members?

Well Loyd, I started; you and I have had rich dialogue on how both Millennials and Boomers could expand their thinking about the other. What I would add to those discussions would be something to the tune of….

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Advice to Millennial's about Baby Boomers

For the last couple of month’s Loyd and I have been discussing generational differences and how to overcome issues they often create in the workplace. Loyd initially posed the question to me in December, but since this was such a big topic, we decided to break up the conversation into a 4-part series; tackling one topic at a time.

In December, Loyd and I discussed outside influences responsible for shaping generational perspectives on areas such as work-ethic, communication and technology. And in January, Loyd geared the discussion towards what advice would I give to Boomers and Millennials. So, as I sit here in the airport waiting for Loyd to meet me for our connecting flight; I am pondering what could be Loyd's next question.

Loyd walks up, we say our hello’s, board the plane and as soon as we get to 10,000 feet, Loyd gets right to it. “Say Doc, not a lot of time on this puddle jumper, so let’s move on with this discussion on generational issues. Last month we focused on advice to Boomers about Millennials, so what insight do you have for Millennials working with Boomers?

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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork - Boomer Perspectives about Millennial’s

The last time Loyd and I were together, Loyd posed a question in regards to Overcoming Generational Issues Impacting Teamwork - “How do privately held businesses overcome the generational issues that have a direct impact on teamwork and business performance?” Loyd can never just ask a simple question. ”

Knowing that we could not answer this in one sit-down and one glass of wine, we decided to tackle the topic in a four-part series focused on:

  • Boomer perspective about Millennial’s
  • Millennial perspective about Boomers
  • Advice to Both
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Dr. Merlot’s Perspective: Overcoming Generational Differences Impacting Teamwork

We have looked at sibling partnerships under stress, my perspective on the impact gender has on leadership and teamwork, and my thoughts on gender bias in the workplace. In this installment, I have mixed it up just a little, thanks to my buddy Loyd, who felt it would be a good idea to bring the “generation” conversation to the table. His question to me was, “How do privately held businesses overcome the generational issues that have a direct impact on teamwork and business performance?”

Knowing that I could not answer this in one sit-down and one glass of wine, this four-part series will focus on:

  • Boomer perspective about Millennial’s
  • Millennial perspective about Boomers
  • Advice to Both
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Is Your Business Vision Working for You?

Did you know that it is impossible to not communicate? In the same way, you can’t be in business without a succession plan. Whether or not you have spent the energy and taken the time to engage a host of experts to help you plan for the transition to the next generation of owners and leaders, you have a succession plan.

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How to Improve Teamwork and Increase Productivity

Organizational productivity is dependent upon teamwork, which I describe as two or more people working together for a common goal. “Team” can be expressed or implied, conscious or unconscious, but regardless, organizational productivity depends upon the effectiveness of interdependent, collaborative effort.

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What's The Purpose Of Your Success?

Succession is dependent upon success. Therefore, mediocrity is not a succession option. In order for you to have confidence your successors can survive the predictable distractions, issues and problems associated with the transfer of ownership and management control your business must perform above benchmark to assure that there is adequate margin for a dip in productivity.

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The Culture of People

I admit it. I’m an Apple junkie. Our family has iPhones, MacBooks, an iMac, Apple TV, and several iPads (I bought my 84-year old computer-less mother-in-law one last Christmas and had to increase my data plan just to accommodate her web surfing!). I will not, however, be sporting an Apple Watch since I don’t wear a watch anyway and even with sleek looks, the thought of wearing a ‘computer’ on my wrist reminds me too much of the geeks of yore who wore their calculator watches that required a toothpick stylus to peck at the small keyboard.

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Setting Boundaries: How to Avoid Family Business Entanglements

A principle I'm reminded of on a daily basis is: “It is far easier to get entangled than it is to get untangled.” If you've ever tried to unravel a tangled up web of string you know what I'm talking about. Entanglement almost seems to be an effortless exercise whereas untangling can tax even the most patient of personalities.

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Family Business Issues - It's All About Perspective

"I cannot handle this anymore. Dad does not respect me. He questions my decisions, charges jet fuel and dinners with his friends to our credit card. I cannot stand this any longer." 

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How To: Jerk Proofing Your Business

Nasty people do more than make others miserable.  They create economic problems for your business.  And the problem is more widespread than most people think.  Especially in some occupations driven by a “sales” or “technical” culture.  So, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that your business  culture doesn’t have to become a hostage to jerks and bullies.  In a recent article (By Invitation:  Building the civilized workplace) appearing in The McKinsey Quarterly, Robert Sutton defined a workplace jerk as someone who leaves others feeling “oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled.”  

Jerks and bullies attack in any number of ways, whether in business or in family settings.  Some of the more common include insulting and sarcastic humor; turf invasions; status slaps; two faced attacks; verbal and non-verbal threats and intimidation; and public shaming or time-honored hazing disguised at team building (remember the Miami Dolphins scandal?).  Nasty interactions like these are more powerful than a locomotive, spread faster than a speeding bullet, and affect people five times more strongly than positive ones.  

These kinds of behaviors, often condoned because the perp is a great “producer” who brings in a wonderful revenue stream, can destroy an organization or a family in several ways.  Walls go up, morale goes down, customers and applicants stay away, and family members have as little to do with each other as possible.  Steven Covey, author of Principle Centered Leadership, talked about behaviors like these as withdrawals from an emotional bank account.    

So how do you prevent these behaviors from happening?  Our experience suggests that a variety of covenants – family, management, and organizational – help set the tone for building a civilized culture. A couple of well known companies like Gold’s Gym, Southwest Airlines, Success Factors, and Netflix have a “we don’t hire or keep jerks” covenant or policy.  It’s communicated in three ways:  verbally, in writing, and – most importantly – in practice.  If you’re not ready to part company with a jerk, don’t say you will when you know you won’t.  Your failure to do so speaks volumes.

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5 Keys to Building Your Personal Influence

Not too long ago, a General Manager and I began working together to enhance his communication skills.  However, as we worked together I realized his real desire was more about influence versus communication.  He wanted to have a 360◦ level of influence.

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How to Avoid Getting Squashed in Management and Family Feuds

Like many words in the English language, "squash" can have several meanings. For example, it can refer to a game played with racquets by players who whack a hollow ball around a court. For our purposes though, let's think of squash as the ancient sport of destroying someone else's ideas before they have a chance to break into full flower. It's generally played by one or more persons who use words as weapons and say things like: 

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Can You Be Too Optimistic for Your Own Good?

Can you be so optimistic that you are completely out of touch with reality? Can you believe so strongly in your own dreams and ambitions for yourself, your family, and your business that you just don’t “get it”? 

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Successor Development: 5 Key Indicators for Evaluating a Successor

If multiple successor candidates are available, it is important for you as the business owner to objectively approach selecting the successor leader. To evaluate the candidates, you can use what I refer to as the 5 C’s, which are five key traits your ultimate successor should have. 

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Building Success: Do’s and Don’ts for Leadership

Business success, more than just “getting by,” is an essential first step to succession planning. Success is a key ingredient to Succession. It drives momentum, culture, purpose and profits that create business value.

As I work my way around the patch, I am often asked, “Swami of Succession, how do I build a level of success to justify succession planning?” It should come as no surprise to you that I don’t have a “silver bullet” answer. However, I can definitely share some “do’s” and “don’ts” of leadership and management that I have consistently witnessed as having a direct impact on success. 

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Avoid Having “Have” Problems – Understand Your Responsibilities as a Successful Businessperson

Business succession planning is not a well understood profession. Consequently, I am commonly asked what do I really do? After confirming that "No, I am not a life insurance salesman," I commonly express that I deal with problems on the have side. After contending with the chuckling I endeavor to defend the virtue of what I do by explaining that have problems don't get much sympathy because of the assumption that people who are not wanting, really don't have problems. From my unique perspective, I assure you this is not the case.  

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How to Deal with the Sensitive Issues of Succession Planning

If you’ve been thinking about succession planning, you already know there’s a lot to consider.  Dealing with estate minimization, tax avoidance, gifting, buy/sell agreements, etc., etc., can give people major headaches.  And then there’s the human element associated with the transition of wealth, family leadership, and business concerns from one generation to the next, where we sometimes trade headache for heartache.  

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Help! My Parent Won’t Give Me the Chance to Lead the Business

Sometimes when my partners and I make a presentation at a national conference for one group or another, we go through a skit in which members of successive generations go back and forth over which generation should “call the shots.” It ends with the younger generation member saying something along the lines of, “Dad, when am I ever going to have THE seat at the table?  I’ve been carrying this business for the last 20 years and you’re still telling me what to do.  For crying out loud, I’m 53 years old!”  

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Use Your Business Processes to Build a Solid Reputation

A client and I were walking back to my car when she asked, “When should we start to get concerned about our business reputation?” After a few seconds of thought, I answered “Well, if you wait until you have one, it could be too late. So I suppose the best time to be concerned about your reputation is before you actually have one. Then you still have time to help shape it rather than recover from it.” 

To make sure your business processes positively impact your reputation, you need to choose what you want to be best known for in the marketplace: operations (cost and speed); innovation (cutting edge of the industry); or customer relationships (ease of doing business). Your business processes reflect favorably or unfavorably on which brand designation you choose. 

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