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Four generations are being asked to coexist at once: traditionalists (born before 1945), boomers (born 1946-1964), generation X (1965-1977), and millennials (alternately known as gen-Y, echo boomers, Net gen, and even “generation why,” because they never stop questioning the status quo). Managers will be challenged to minimize the friction and maximize the assets of four distinct sets of work values and styles simultaneously.

Entertaining article by Danielle Sacks in Fast Company titled Scenes from the Culture Clash which brought to mind a recent CEO’s session with a new intake of graduate trainees I was asked to sit in on. Everything started rather reserved until one of trainees, when asked by the CEO where he saw himself in 12 months time, instantly replied ‘California’. Given the organisation did not have a presence there this completely knocked the CEO off his stride. So I asked ‘anywhere in particular in California?’ ‘Huntington Beach‘ was the confident reply. ‘A surfer’ I remarked which instantly set off a good natured 15 minute banter within the group about the merits and demerits of a surfing lifestyle. The rest of the session flowed as the group adapted and became more comfortable with each other. After the session the CEO remarked that in all his years within the organisation he had never seen the mood in a room change so quickly. To which I simply replied ‘providing passionate people with purpose is the new way of the world’. More to follow …

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