I want to add a few dimensions to Dani’s blog about our “onslaught” of training requests regarding generational issues in the workplace. The first is an observation about the process of facilitating these events; I am a semi-typical baby boomer. Dani is a pretty typical Gen Y. As we have prepared, discussed and engaged multiple clients in this topic, we have explored our own tendencies, biases and patterns. We have been able to present much of this openly in sessions with clients. It has not only been fun, but also increased our own empathy as well as clients. As we have fun teasing one another about the generational stereotypes it seems to open up insight and discussion in the sessions. There is a sense of denial and/or political correctness that takes some pushing through to help people acknowledge some of the true obstacles they carry around this issue. This is a primary first step for us to engage in this topic in a meaningful way, both for ourselves and clients.

The second dimension for us to consider is: “why does this topic seem to have renewed fervor at this time”. I’m not sure we have gotten a good answer to this question yet; only that it does seem to be so. I recently attended the ASTD (now ATD –Association for Talent Development) conference in Washington DC. This is THE international conference in training and development. There were multiple sessions devoted to this topic, including some forefront writers. Possibly the current movement of generations is a factor; Baby Boomers starting to move out & retire- Gen X and Y much more prevalent in the workforce and in leadership positions. I think the best way to address it is to ask you: Do you see this becoming a critical issue in your organization and what are you doing to address it?

The final dimension I want to add in line with the theme of BizPsych’s blogs for this year is what have we actually done to promote meaningful change in our training sessions. Truly, process we have initiated in these trainings was borrowed from a training on this topic I attended a number of years ago. This presention was at our local EAP Association meeting. I have been extremely interested in this topic for a long time and attended many trainings on the topic. Always interesting but they left me a little flat i.e. so, we talked about the stereotype differences between generations & why they are there, but what now? In the training at our EAPA chapter they put together a panel representing each generation. Now that was inspiring! I walked away with some truly changed beliefs and experiences.

So, we have incorporated this concept into all of our presentations. We put together a panel before the training of representatives from each generation. We discuss the issues related to this topic that are real and relevant to their particular work culture. We have created questions for the panelists to explore and meet ahead of the training to prepare the discussion. Fantastic insights have emerged from these discussions both in the prep meeting and training itself. A few of these were:

  • From a Baby Boomer in a very traditional culture: ‘Maybe I need to reconsider my resistance to requests for remote work and focus more on results than butts in the seat…”
  • From a Gen X: ‘I realized that the Gen Y’s I was supervising wanted direction from me about their career development, but always with their input…”
  • From a Gen Y: instead of focusing on Baby Boomers just resisting change, perhaps we can honor the best of the past and engage in their ability to adapt…”


– Patrick Hiester