It was 1990 and I was going through my orientation for my new job at Crowe Chizek (now Crowe Horwath) – the 5th largest CPA firm at the time. They were walking me through something called “electronic mail” on a VAX system that was a black screen with green characters. I thought it was pretty cool that we could send “electronic messages” to other people. Now, if you can remember those type of systems you probably can relate to what I am going to explain next, which is the importance of adoption of technology by taking into the generations into consideration.
There was a time not so long ago when the generations in the work force were classified by age than whether they could adopt new technologies or not. That simply is not the case anymore as one of the bigger user groups of consumer devices like iPads and tablets are the generations called the Matures and Boomers. It really comes down to the mentality of the person. I used to think it was a generation classification but the attitude and willingness is a bigger part of technology adoption than ever. I just read a blog from Tim Leman, the CEO of Gibson insurance about 10 life Lessons from his grandma, and one of her life lessons was “Don’t ever let technology pass you up”. Read it here. She stated “always have a computer at your fingertips and a cell phone in your pocket so that you can have good communication with friends, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren”. WOW — all Leman’s lessons opened my eyes, but that one smacked me in the head. Yet another blind spot (see my post on blind spots here).
The general classification of the generations below shows the Matures being pre-1946 and Gen Z somewhere around 2000.
So, why all the generation talk? I used to think about separate processes for the different generations but found out it was not a hard line. In fact, it was quite fuzzy. Rather technology adoption is about getting the right people in the right seats doing the right things as Jim Collins explains in his book Good to Great .
Now I am challenging myself taking into consideration people’s strengths, attitude, and if they have the right leader in place to allow for training and change. If that’s not there, we have a hard discussion because I don’t want to work on a project that is going to fail, let alone have to fight about it, during and at the end of the project.
With the right leader, especially Level 5 leaders, a company can thrive with all generations working together, maximizing their potential. Don’t be afraid to change roles and invest in people. Generation Y got a reputation for being the “deserving” and mobile-only generation, but with training and mentoring there can be a nice match of generations to help each other.
- I would recommend reading Y-Size Your Business by Jason Ryan Dorsey– it will open your eyes to how this generation thinks.
- Do the Strengths Finders assessment on your teams or something similar that allows you to see their strengths so you can explore adjusting seats and matching cross generations to work more effectively.
- Train your team FOREVER. Companies that invest in training have low turn over and great teamwork because they are working on themselves.
- Watch Daniel Pink’s TED Talk about the priorities of employees – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose (Money is #4 – really). – link here.
Remember Business is People – Process – Systems. Take care of your people, lead them well, train them and you will benefit big. Please comment if you have questions.