Effective Solutions Through Partnership

How to Manage Different Generations During Times of Change

Managing/Leadership, Organizational Change Management (OCM)

Managing Generations

By Denise Larcade, Prosci, CSM, CSPO, LSSGB

Change is all around us. How we react to impending change is related to our emotions and how we, generationally-speaking, have been conditioned to manage change.

Here’s a hypothetical: You’ve just learned the next generation iPhone is ready for public consumption. Your excitement about this change depends on your generational identification. Are you a Baby Boomer? If so, you may have fear or indifference tied to this news. While everyone else is excited, you might have forgotten that your generation 4s iPhone is due for an upgrade. If this doesn’t sound like you—maybe you are on the waiting list to get your hands on this new model—then you might be a Gen Z-er. You are excited about this change; after all, it’s not just a phone, it’s your lifeblood. For all the reasons the Gen Z-er is excited about the new phone are the same reasons the Baby Boomer has fears about it.

Now let’s flip the script: Suppose you are the Gen Z-er who travels to visit your grandparents somewhere in the U.S. where people live without internet. Here’s where the great new phone might not have all the answers you need to see the sights and find your way around. As a Baby Boomer, it’s a piece of cake—a local phone book and paper map of the area and you are on your way to exploration and discovery.

Generational differences abound not only in real life, but in the workplace, as well. Successfully implementing change among the generations can be challenging. As a change management practitioner, here are some items to consider when planning for an upcoming change:

  • Who will be impacted by the change? Will these peoples’ emotions related to the change be the same?
  • Taking into account the emotional reaction above, what can you do to minimize fears in some while promoting excitement in others?
  • How can the different generational skillsets you are working with provide value to make the change successful?
    • Who might best identify process steps and details?
    • Who might best identify technology-driven data and use?
    • Who can team up to create an equal balance of both process steps/details and technology? How can you enlist both Baby Boomers and Gen Z-ers to work together and learn from one another?

According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, “Within the next five years, [Gen Z-ers] will become the fastest-growing generation in both the workplace and the marketplace.” While Millennials get a lot of attention, now is the time to start thinking about how to bridge the gap between all the generations and to use the generational differences to your advantage. How can Millennials bring out the strengths in Baby Boomers? How can Gen X-ers mentor Gen Z-ers as they begin to enter the workforce? It’s less about “handling” (or complaining about) the incoming or outgoing generations and more about finding commonality and using the generations’ individual strengths together to continuously improve your business.

How do you manage change in your workplace? And how do you—as a Baby Boomer, Gen X-er, Millennial, or Gen Z-er—work successfully with your different generational cohorts?

About the Author: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to one of KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

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