During the Clarus Conversation between a Baby Boomer and Millennial this month, we’ve heard about the challenges and benefits of intergenerational teams in the workplace. Today, both Cathy Wright and Candace Phillips come together to share what they’ve learned from working with other generations and how Clarus leverages our unique strengths.
Our differences are our strengths. At Clarus, our clients range from high-powered corporations to grassroots nonprofits, so it is crucial that we be flexible and open-minded. Our group is comprised of strong, diverse workers, prepared and eager to lend their expertise to client needs. A recent article in The New York Times dubbed Millennials “Generation Nice,” but Baby Boomers have a culture of grit and perseverance engrained in them. It’s the balance of these attributes that is the backbone of Clarus.
In short: Some of us need to be open to learning from more experienced colleagues; we seasoned veterans should recognize the benefits of listening to younger generations. As Candace described, Millennials have a readiness to learn from their peers, and, dare I say, elders. She exemplifies the open-mindedness that has empowered Millennials to make great strides in the workplace just a few years after college. While she has not had the 30-odd years of experience that I carry with me, she has a warmth and openness that cannot be taught. I am sometimes quick to revert to my old ways, and our Millennial colleagues will, always gently, suggest other options that I haven’t thought of. Oh, and they aren’t so bad with technology either. Candace’s attention to detail brings a focus to the “big picture” perspective that is crucial to project success. And I can transfer my knowledge and give her the personal feedback that I could have used when I started my career.
While I may have a Millennial mindset and ambitious approach rooted from my upbringing, , Cathy’s experience is invaluable. As Angela Lee Duckworth outlined in her TED Talk, grit is the key to success. And, boy, does Cathy have grit. When dealing with fast-paced projects and high-powered clients, it is Cathy’s directness and confidence that provides the structure to deliver a strong product. When I have the tendency to hyper-focus on task-oriented project details, Cathy’s experienced perspective allows me to view the project from multiple vantage points. It is our willingness to work together and use our differences in a balanced, productive way that allows us to create impactful results for our clients. Clarus’ open door policy means that I am able to bring my ideas and concerns to other team members. This fosters an innovative, collaborative environment charged for creativity.
To ensure that our differences bring us together, rather than divide us, we practice what we preach. Employee Reviews are completed every six months (not yearly), promoting open communication and feedback. We know that workloads, roles, and interests are constantly evolving. We do our best to allow our team members to elaborate their skill sets and hold weekly staff meetings so that we all know the collective vision for work at Clarus. Perhaps most importantly, we push aside our personal agendas and let others bring their style, experience and expertise to the table: Collaboration at its best.
We are learning from each other every day— a process without an end point. Team-building helps us build on each person’s distinctive backgrounds and strengths. We have all been shaped by different life experiences. Whether that shape was formed by the Millennials’ helicopter parents or the Boomers’ unresponsive supervisors, we are made to fit together. And the picture we are creating is getting clearer by the day.