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Emma Alvarez Gibson is here today, as a Gen Xer, to get the multi-generational workforce on the same program. Well, maybe as a first step, to get the Baby Boomers and Millennials to understand there are options for them (beyond whining to the Gen Xers) to upgrade their own performance and make more sense to each other. Because the Gen Xers have their own work to get done, and translating for all of you is making it tough for them.

Short story, it’s a powder keg out there in the multi-generational workforce, so here is to making it a little safer!

Field Notes: A Gen Xer Speaks to the Multi-generational Workforce from Emma Alvarez Gibson

Hello, colleagues.

We have a pretty decent working relationship, don’t we? We are gracious and professional, we exchange pleasantries even when we don’t have to, and we weather the ups and downs of corporate life together, or anyway near one another. Things are fine! I think we probably all agree on that.

You may not be aware of it, but as the lifeblood of our organization, as a Gen Xer, I’m holding together two disparate worlds in the multi-generational workforce. Having one foot in Baby Boomer Biosphere and the other in Millennialandia, I translate all day long, you to me to them and back again. I tell the youngs what the olds want, and I tell the olds what the youngs mean. I switch gears so that the inhabitants of both worlds will understand that I know what I’m about and that I’m trustworthy. (It’s tiring, yes, and I imagine this is the sort of situation that led Atlas to shrug, but that way lies a discussion about Ayn Rand, which, frankly, I’m too worn out to consider at the moment.)

It is in the spirit of our mutual respect and collaboration, then, that I implore you to consider a simple upgrade to your modus operandus. Herein I shall recommend one upgrade for the Baby Boomers, and another for the Millennials. In both cases the goal is the same: greater productivity within our multi-generational workforce.

via Shutterstock

Millennials, I’m going to start with you.

You are much maligned, it’s true; but all of us could benefit from some improvement. (And hey, Gen Xers know from being maligned. Everything was our fault until you guys were in grade school, at which point everything magically became your fault.)

Here is the one weird trick to improving your reputation around the office: have good manners. That entails, for instance, making eye contact. It means that when someone greets you in the hallway, you say hello back, even if you don’t know the person who’s just spoken to you. (The odds of your needing to ask that person for permission in order to carry out various parts of your job repeatedly over the course of an average week will be high. Trust.) Don’t just waltz into someone’s office and say, “I’m supposed to get a folder from you?” Knock, even if the door is open, and introduce yourself. Say please. Say thank you. Respect the pecking order, or make the effort to appear as though you do. You’re probably way faster at what you do than the majority of the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers you work with. But we’ve got years on you, which translates into breadth, depth, context, and relationships. Relationships are everything. Remember that.

Baby Boomers, you’re up now.

You have that aforementioned breadth, depth, and context. You have the relationships. We rely on you for structure and order, for insight and reason. So please, please, please: learn how to use technology, already.

Stop spending so much time talking about the ways you used to be able to do your job without it. Stop finding clever ways to avoid doing tech-related things because you don’t want people to think you’re too old. Spoiler alert: it’s heartbreakingly obvious to us when you’re avoiding it. We can tell from the language you use whether or not you’re scared of technology. Avoid the mental calisthenics: admit what you don’t know, and then learn what you should know. Stop pretending you can be as good as you once were without it. Change is inconvenient for everyone. It’s just that your generation is the only one still in the workforce that’s ever had the luxury of stability. We understand the impulse to ignore this pesky quicksand atop which we all stand. But we know it’s futile at best and self-destructive at worst.

Manners, meet technology. Technology, say hello to manners.

And yea verily will the skies part and the hallelujah chorus sound. Well, anyway, things will get better for our multi-generational workforce: we will grease the wheels of both form and function, and the Gen Xers will get a little breathing room, which in turn will make us a whole lot less resentful and irritatingly prone to dramatic statements about what martyrs we are.

So, now it’s your turn. Because fair’s fair. What are Gen Xers doing to drive you nuts? How can we contribute to the good of the group? Let us know on the Brainzooming Facebook page. (Yes, Millennials, we know it’s for old people. Yes, Boomers, we know you don’t want your life all over the internet. But everyone else is using it, so…c’mon. Do it for the team.)

Change is not only possible; it’s inescapable. So let us go willingly. The only thing we stand to lose is a bad stereotype.

– Emma Alvarez Gibson

 

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While we are whole-hearted proponents of fun strategic planning activities, that doesn’t mean every strategic planning workshop we design and facilitate has exactly the same type of fun. In fact, in some situations, we never get out the fun squeeze toys.

And we all know that toys are a universal signal that a strategy workshop is supposed to be fun.

Not really; just kidding.

There is a lot more to making a strategy workshop fun so that people want to participate the first time and in subsequent years. We detail all those ideas in 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.

4 Times to Avoid Toys during Fun Strategic Planning Activities

But back to strategy workshops and skipping the toys – here are four situations where we do not rush to put out toys:

1. The dynamic with the group doesn’t feel right

Sometimes, it is obvious that the participants are not jelling and funny is not the best thing to get them comfortable with each other.

2. It’s too cramped and cluttered in the room

We want a lot of square feet per person for a strategy workshop. Often, we wind up in a tiny room because it’s convenient, and everyone is on top of one another. In those situations, the last thing we need is to add to the clutter with toys.

3. The people may kill each other

Toys are meant to be fun. They are not meant to be weapons. When the strategy workshop participants are a little TOO aggressive with one another, someone could put an eye out by zinging a squeeze ball at a co-worker. If people can’t play nicely, NO TOYS.

4. We’re told “no funny stuff”

We have talked about situations where a client came to us before the workshop to say there was to be no funny stuff. In those cases, we don’t go to the toys – at least not right away!

Other than those four times

Beyond those four times, we’re all about the toys. And everything else that REALLY makes strategic planning a mentally stimulating experience! – Mike Brown

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Yes, developing strategy can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


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I came up with this list a few years ago when some friends were searching for high school reunion ideas that would help pass the time.

high-school-reunion-drink

It’s reunion time again. Here’s the list of fun questions in text and image form. Try them out, and see who fits each category at your high school reunion!

High School Reunion Ideas – 18 Fun Questions to Ask

  1. Most unrealized intellectual potential?
  2. Who has most over achieved?
  3. Most changed physically—male?
  4. Most changed physically—female?
  5. Least changed?
  6. Person I would most like to change places with?
  7. Would have taken better care of him/herself if he/she had thought he/she would make it to this reunion?
  8. Great news! __________ showed up.
  9. Great news! __________ didn’t show up.
  10. Too bad. ________ didn’t show up.
  11. Highest (unwarranted) opinion of themselves?
  12. Most changed?
  13. And I would know you from?
  14. When did you get so big?
  15. Boy…I’m glad I’m not __________.
  16. Over/under—plastic surgeries? 2
  17. Most interesting conversation?
  18. Most thought provoking conversation?

High School Reunion Ideas – 18 Fun Questions to Ask (image)

fun-questions-high-school-r
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The Larry King Post View

Keep moving. At all costs . . . Since my flight was cancelled, I was going to hang on to my rental car while I went in to the airport to figure out my options. Then my standard mental travel checklist kicked in (which says she’d all things that will slow you down), and I dropped it off. If I’d have kept it, I probably wouldn’t have gotten home. #ChecklistsRule . . . Songs for an airport: Husbands, don’t let you wives bend over and show butt cracks.

Candy-crush

There is more than one way to get home by 10:30 at night . . .  If I weren’t in shape, I wouldn’t have made that connecting flight . . . The food service areas at LaGuardia are incredible compared to how they used to be. Sorry I had to run by them on this trip . . . In a future life, I’m changing my last name to Gatechek. Our family crest will be a pink tag . . . I don’t wear headphones on planes. I like to make sure the engines are still running. Just in case.

Let me be clear: I don’t want a clear drink, and I’ll whine until I get the right one . . . I don’t think it’s possible to drink enough in first class to make up for the cost differential, in case you are keeping score . . . Candy Crush? I don’t know from Candy Crush . . . I write on planes the way some people play games. Or listen to music. Or watch videos. Or snore . . . You may need exactly the right conditions to be able to engage in a mundane activity. Or maybe you don’t . . . Apparently not everyone is familiar with the concept of time zones. Because if they were, the woman next to me on the plane wouldn’t have had to try to explain them to the person who kept calling her even after she hung up on them.

Drinks

All this, and I still have to drive home.

What Made the Delta Customer Experience Work

I was trying to get back to Kansas City from the East Coast late Tuesday afternoon. Right before arriving at the airport, I discovered Delta cancelled my flight through Atlanta. After running to the Delta ticket counter, they directed me to the Special Services Line designated for those of us on cancelled flights. Starting out ten deep, I decided to try and get somebody from Delta on the phone and take my chances. I Googled and found a local Atlanta customer service number and called. Surprisingly, in almost no time at all, Tina answered the phone.

Manhattan

Tina was in an INCREDIDBLY good mood (despite the Delta system melting down this week), and I let her know that multiple times. After detailing my situation, Tina diligently went to work on my Tuesday options (beyond catching a flight at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning). She found a flight through LaGuardia, with a tight connection to Kansas City. We discussed the likelihood of making the connection given a potential delay on my initial flight. I said I thought it was worth the risk to be able to get home at the exact same time I was expected. Tina replied so charmingly, “I’m with you! I’m feeling this is going to work!”

I said let’s go.

Tina booked me in first class for both legs and checked me in for the flight. All by the time I made it up to the counter.

We’ll see how well Delta social listens. Because if they reach out to me about my Delta customer experience, I’d be happy to supply my confirmation number so they can track down Tina and do something incredible for her.

Amid what could have been a completely crappy situation, Tina put the Delta brand on her shoulders and delivered an exceptional customer experience. – Mike Brown

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Summer travel is a fascinating study in how little people think about the ways their bodies AND their clothes will be stretched beyond normal limits. It’s a great opportunity to practice keeping your eyes very focused on what you are doing and ignoring the “local scenery” . . . Being on the road during the summer is also a great opportunity to write a “Larry King-style” summer travel blogging update . . . I’d never smelled that “new airplane smell” until the first flight in the morning. Kinda wanted to go kick the tires.

Airport-Terminal

I appreciate how women like going to the bathroom together. For two woman headed to the bathroom together on this plane, however, things are going to get a little crowded. My point was made when they came scurrying back within a minute . . . For some reason, the antidote to a failed group girl trip to the airplane bathroom is to turn on ALL the lights in their row and talk at the top of their lungs. . . There is pretty much nothing in the world important enough to me that I need to watch it on TV on an airplane.

Airport-Plane

There is no reason why my iPad should keep falling down backward when I’m typing on the table tray on the airplane. I don’t type THAT hard . . . A woman in front of me on the flight sported a tattoo on the underside of her forearm that read, “The only thing that’s constant is change.” Yes, and also that tattoo . . . The guy next to me on the plane is going to an “Intensive Retreat.” How I so much want to open his notebook and see what it’s about . . . Someone sent me a message saying she wanted to tell me I had a great body. She realized later her talk-to-text had translated “voice” to “body.” She was red with embarrassment. I experience the agony of defeat.

Calling “gate checking” luggage “valet service” is an intriguing, albeit completely false customer experience ploy . . . I was on a late Southwest Airlines flight where I think they decided to just not do any drink service because the flight attendants didn’t want to work . . . When you have a drink named for you at a hotel bar in the city where your employer is headquartered, you may have a problem . . . Overheard on a plane: Child says, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy says, “I love you more.” Child says again, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy once again replies, “I love you more!” Child says a third time, “I love you, mommy!” Mommy fesses up, “If you keep saying that throughout this flight, I’ll abandon you when we get to O’Hare, so I guess you really do love me more than I love you.”

Travel-Curacao

The lady at the restaurant where I had dinner told me you usually miss a flight for a reason. I’ll work with that . . . I went into an airport store that carried various Dr. Seuss mini-books. I bought, “Oh the Ways You Beat Yourself Up.” That title fit with the day’s theme . . . I saw a flight crew that high-fived in lieu of chest bumping. The female flight attendant said she’d have knocked the male flight attendant over if they had chest bumped. Ouch! Not sure which one of us had the tougher day. – Mike Brown

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We (and by “we” I mean “I”) would like to believe we’re strong at strategic thinking in business. And an appreciation of strategic thinking from a business perspective SHOULD extend over into ALL the decisions we make.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

With strategic thinking, it’s often so much easier to apply it to other organizations and people than to our own situation.

The-Thinker

Need a few examples to back that claim up?

Here you go.

The SMARTEST Thing I Could Do Would Be To . . .

  • Prioritize all the business development stuff I need to do, but I sit at the computer struggling to write a blog post for the next day.
  • Get on with writing a blog post for the next day if that’s what I’m going to insist on doing, but instead, I spend time chatting on Facebook Messenger.
  • Work on one thing at a time and finish it, yet my desk is strewn with 15 things that need attention by the end of the day.
  • Stop snacking, but I’m too busy walking to the kitchen to get cheese crackers as a way of getting exercise.
  • Appreciate the people that have reached out wondering why I seem so frazzled lately, but all the while I’m concerned about what I’m doing that’s making it so obvious how frazzled I’ve been lately.
  • Turn off the computer to clear the memory out and let it take a rest, but I refuse to shut it down and have to re-open all those Windows Explorer searches.
  • Go to sleep instead of staying up past midnight once again, KNOWING I have to get up by 4:30 to complete my weekly newsletter writing deadline.

See what I mean.

It’s easy, when it comes to strategic thinking, to KNOW better.

It’s not nearly as easy (it seems) to DO the better thing you know you should do.

Maybe that’s all part of being human.  – Mike Brown

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Sitting at the Las Vegas airport after speaking at the Social Media Strategies Summit, you realize how important a great friend is, whether you’re arriving in or departing from Las Vegas.

Las-Vegas-Airport-!

In fact, by my informal, unscientific observations, there are NINETEEN reasons you want a great friend at the Las Vegas airport if you’re moving through McCarran or hanging out waiting for a flight.

Skeptical?

Well, a great friend at the Las Vegas airport will:

  1. Tell you that you are actually carrying three carry-on items, no matter that you think one item doesn’t count because it is two pairs of sneakers in a plastic shopping bag
  2. Remind you that your scarf is still 5 bags back going through x-ray because you didn’t take it off until you were ready to go through the security scanner
  3. Tell you when you are too fat to wear what you’re wearing out in public these days – or at least tell you to pull down your shirt.
  4. Buy you a coffee when you are too messed up to do it for yourself
  5. Hold something for you while you try to get everything back on after going through security
  6. Have a multi-plug-in adaptor to get you some juice for your phone before the plane boards
  7. Agree that you are getting screwed over by the boss, but not try to fix the problem for you
  8. Let you know that the bra you are wearing has so much padding you may be in violation of truth in advertising regulations
  9. Spilt that bagel with you
  10. Watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom
  11. Suggest you not drink as much this time in Vegas
  12. Figure out how to tell you the tight white pants you are wearing might as well be sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, if you get what I mean
  13. Remind you lots of people are worse off than you are
  14. Glare at you for interrupting an in-person conversation to take a call you needn’t have taken right this very minute
  15. Point out that despite them being in, wearing your hair long is cooler than the man-bun you decided to rock this morning
  16. Tell you it is time to let it go when it comes to the conference you just attended
  17. Challenge you that (at least right now) wearing a Kansas City Royals shirt is really cool and wearing a Chiefs shirt is really all about, “Remember 1969!”
  18. Check to find out the plane is half full, so you can puhleeez chill out and quit griping about running late
  19. Tell you that while those shorts still are okay for you, it’s time to add about another inch and half to the length, just because, you know, you haven’t been a teenager for twenty-five years

Yup, the Las Vegas Airport is a great place to have a great friend.

Las-Vegas-Airport-3

And, in keeping with Las Vegas, just so you know, all the links (except two) in this article are affiliate links.

So shop, shop, away! – Mike Brown

 

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