Categories: PMI Global Conference 2018
by Cyndee Miller
Every generation is doomed to a stereotype.
Millennials will not survive without a non-stop stream of validation. They’re special—why can’t you see that?
Generation Xers are loners who would rather take a sick day than participate in some team-building exercise.
Baby boomers can’t text so they insist on scheduling epic face-to-face meetings.
Author Cam Marston offered a different take. Stop thinking of them as stereotypes. They’re preferences. And in a workforce that spans five generations, project and program managers better get a handle on the roots and repercussions of those preferences, said Mr. Marston in his Day 2 keynote at conference. It’s the only way they’re going to make the most of their teams.
“You will become infinitely more powerful if you can understand your preferences and set them aside and let your colleagues’ preferences shine through,” he said.
As pretty much anyone who has a job will tell you, that’s not quite the reality. Gen Xers and baby boomers expect millennials to come into the workplace and behave just like them. But it turns out younger project team members have their own ideas, Mr. Marston said.
Project leaders could stand to be a little more self-aware. Be conscious of what they ask people to do and how they ask them to do it, he said.
As if all that wasn’t complicated enough, I hit another session on the multigenerational workplace from Sarah Leslie, PMP. A senior project manager at Teague, she’s also a self-proclaimed Xennial. Yup, it’s a thing: Born between 1977 and 1983, they have the cynicism of a Gen Xer and the optimism and drive of #millennials. Think Beyoncé. Since few of us have had the pleasure of working with Queen Bey, you may want to simply seek out one of these creatures on your team.
Like Mr. Marston, Ms. Leslie advocated for project managers learning to make the most of the each group’s strengths. Baby boomers, for example, are a generation of storytellers, making them a natural for project retrospectives.
Now, as an Xer, I’m tempted to tell you to figure it out yourself. But in the spirit of embracing preferences, I’ll pose the big question: How are you faring in the new multigenerational workplace? Any tips you want to share? And does anyone else think these complement sandwiches are ridiculous?