The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace

Many thanks to multigenerational workplace expert Lindsey Pollak for sharing insights from her latest book, The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace. Below are some key points from our discussion.

For the first time in history there are five generations active in the workplace: Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Generation X, Millennial, and Generation Z. The challenge is that expectations—about workplace rules, benefits, and the role of work in our lives—are very different depending on our circumstances and experience. But it's important to remember that we are all human first, and we essentially want the same things: to do rewarding work, to make a contribution, to be treated respectfully, and to be compensated fairly.

To help us thrive in this new world where there is such a breadth of knowledge and experience brought by each generation, we can follow these eight rules for remixers:

  1. Stop the generational shaming (including our own). Light self-deprecation can be charming and build bridges, but stereotypes are often unfair and criticism based on a broad generalization helps nobody.

  2. Empathize. Try to put yourself in the shoes of those of other generations and consider the world from their perspective.

  3. Assume the best intentions. Take a moment to understand why people do the things they do. Assuming the best intentions allows us to understand the reasoning behind a behavior, process, or rule.

  4. Think "and" not "or." One size no longer fits all. The best outcome may reflect a combination or confluence of two or more different approaches.

  5. Remember that "common sense is not so common." Providing clear expectations while allowing for some personal choice actually allows everyone to feel more comfortable, creative, and empowered.

  6. Don't change what works. A counterintuitive truth is that the best way to help people adapt to change is to focus on what will stay the same. Finding new ways to deliver a consistent value is fine; new approaches do not change the underlying principle.

  7. Be more transparent. Leaders in the multigenerational workplace should recognize that employees need an understanding of how decisions are made, how the finances of an organization work, or why a certain strategy has been set.

  8. It's okay if everybody wins. This does not mean giving trophies for participation, it means recognizing genuine accomplishment, appreciating everyone's unique contribution to a goal, and operating with shared values and a sense of common purpose and pride.

One piece of advice that seems relevant to all generations at every stage of one's career is don't be afraid... to apply for new position, ask for that raise, start a new venture, connect with a new person. Don't hold back because you feel too old, too young, or any other "too" to take action. To lead and succeed in the multigenerational workplace, do everything you can to create the world that you want to live in now. Generations of the future will thank you.

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Carol TuiteLuminary NYC