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  • Writer's pictureSherry

SBCo Newsletter- July 2009

Getting Along with “Them:” Simple Things To Do Right Now Jim Finkelstein, CEO FutureSense

Jim Finkelstein’s new book, FUSE: Igniting the Full Power of the Creative Economy, has just been released. The book is a 21st century primer for Boomers and

Millennials in the workplace. He collaborated with his co-author, Mary Gavin, a gifted communicator, writer and consultant on this project.

FUSE is a roadmap to the major attractions and hidden talents of both generations; a training book for beleaguered Boomers and frustrated Millennials; and an instruction manual for anyone wanting to attract, motivate and retain employees, or to contribute the full range of their talents to their organizations.

Jim’s goal in writing the book was to show how a mashup of the generations – not a gap – but a fusion of their unique and specific perspectives and abilities can lead to innovation and speed products, services and people into the creative economy of the future. He believes that these are people practical solutions based on common sense. Jim believes common sense is about taking action, but he recognizes that you need to know what to be doing.  According to Jim, “We’re missing the point if we just focus on the attributes of each generation. Let’s talk about specific actions.”

We had a chance to catch Jim between his many presentations and consulting projects to ask him about things we can start doing right away.

If you’re thinking, “I really want to relate to them, but I don’t know how to do it. How do I change my spots?” here is some of Jim’s common sense advice.

Two things that Boomers can start doing right away:

• Seek to understand rather than be understood. Try being a collaborator or teacher/mentor rather than the manager. Boomer management style is to make statements about the way we do things. Jim’s recommendation:  turn those statements into questions that will invite collaboration.

Rather than tell a group, for example, how you want to structure the meeting, gve a group a pre-set agenda and ask for input: “How can we make this a more productive meeting? Should we turn cell phones off – or how often should we take telecom breaks?” etc. Make an open space for collaboration, “Here’s what we need to get done. How do we get this done?” Jim notes, “Millennials are more psychological than other generations. They need to be engaged more on the emotive than the cognitive scale. They are forcing managers to manage people, not jobs and not tasks.”

• Recognize they see things differently. Before you feel offended because people are texting while you’re talking, remember this is the generation of multi-tasking at its most complex. They don’t see dual activity as rude—it’s just how they function. If they are paying attention to you as well as the texting, try to roll with it.

Bonus suggestion: For years structured meetings, etc., have been in 50 minute segments with 10 minute breaks. To get the most involvement from Millennials, make some kind of break after 20 minute segments. It may seem like more work, but you’ll get more attention from your employees if you recognize they need shorter segments to hold their attention. Again, this is how they function. {Editor’s note: some of us Boomers will appreciate shorter segments as well!}

Two things that Millennials can start doing right away:

• Respect and honor the wisdom and experience of people who came before you. Learn from their trials, mistakes, successes. Be in a learning mode to learn from everyone around you. Be a student and take the approach that you can learn from each other

• Be patient and firm: don’t give up your point of view but realize it may not happen at warp speed. You may need to learn how to play the game differently. Be patient and helpful; be a teacher. Be willing to teach the old dogs, but in sound bites, and teach by example. This is a much better approach than moaning and whining if you don’t get your way right away.

Bonus Suggestion: Give them the answer and then show them how you got there. Boomers want the answer first. If your boss gave you an assignment that you know can be done in a more efficient way, find the solution to get it done. Get them the answer they need first. Then let them know: "There is actually an interesting and intriguing way to get this done. Can I show you what I did?”

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