Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/662902

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Page 38 of 51

d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S u m m e r 2 0 1 6 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 37 THEGENERATIONGAME the workplace. "GE started doing a reverse mentoring program where the younger em- ployees mentor older ones on how to use technology." Such programs have become increasingly common. THE POWER OF EMPATHY Law frm DLA Piper, which has four gen- erations of employees under its roof, takes a thoughtful, holistic approach to helping them work together. "One thing we focus on is empthy," says Genhi Givings Bailey, director of diversity and inclusion. "Now that we're smart about these generational diferences and under- stand how the other party communicates— are they a texter or an emailer, or a come- and-sit-down-in-my-office?—we're using that to motivate people to be proactive and engage. It's an awareness of diferences and being sensitive." Te frm has engaged DeSantis to conduct educational sessions with various groups. "One of the things we play with is how Millennials present themselves," he says. "I teach them how to navigate the system. Tey have to accommodate some of that sys- tem, but I teach them how to play within it." "Both the Millennials and the older gen- erations are thinking about their own work styles, and they're approaching the challeng- es with more empathy," Givings Bailey says. "People walk away from these sessions and they're really energized." Leaders at DLA Piper know that they can also beneft from bringing various ages to the decision-making table. Some of the frm's committees within D&I were partner heavy, for example, so seats are being allo- cated for employees at other levels. "People are contributing at a high level," Givings Bai- ley says. "Tere's a lot of energy." USING SCIENCE TO DISPEL STEREOTYPES Meanwhile, at AT&T, Constance "Connie" Missimer, a senior manager of user experi- ence design, gets pumped up about using scientifc data to help diferent generations "get" one another. "My passion is to understand the neurobi- ology of the brain as it ages," says Missimer, SO YOUR BOSS IS A MILLENNIAL? You have a new boss—and you were a college sophomore when she was born. You may feel a bit awkward at frst, but recognize that this is hardly a unique situa- tion in today's workplace. Here's what the experts say. Be respectful. The situation may be uncomfort- able initially, but keep in mind that your younger boss may be struggling as well. He or she may be intimidated by your experience, for example. You're both in this together, so treat it like any other relationship in the offce—professionally. Take age out of the equation. It can be tempting to say, "My generation feels this way," but resist the urge. Be open to new ideas. Avoid saying, "This is the way we've always done it." The world is changing, and your boss's job is to make sure that your work- place keeps up. Contribute. Do what you always do—provide useful information and pitch solutions. who has given a TEDx talk on the subject. "It's not one of inevitable cognitive de- cline and black balloon parties. You're cre- ating 5,000 more neurons every day. As long as everything is working OK, we all have Ferrari brains. But younger people have less terrain to go through, whereas for an older person, it's a road trip." She says this can be the source of innocent frustration for younger workers, as their older coworkers may ponder longer. A University of Toronto study found that people with aging brains are also more easily distracted, but there's an up- side—they're able to use the distracting information to better solve problems. Teir broader focus of attention is actu- ally associated with greater creativity. So employees of diferent ages—besides bringing varied life experiences to the table—may also bring diferent thought processes. "I'm a nutcase on the data," Missimer says. "I like to enlighten people about the cognitive strengths of both older and younger people. When people who are dif- ferent get together to work, it results in more creative output, which makes for a more proftable company." Missimer leads a 50 and Forward em- ployee resource group with about 3,000 members, which sometimes partners with a group for younger workers called Oxygen. "Tey do infuse a lot of oxygen into the company," Missimer says. "We team up with them to go out to retire- ment homes and show people the basics of cell phone use." Along the way, solid cross-generational relationships form. "I'm having a ton of fun with someone who is younger than my daughter—she's probably 24—and there's no friction," Missimer says. "We get together and fgure [work-related] things out, and then get a latte and chat about other things." TAPPING MILLENNIAL TALENT New York–based public relations frm MWWPR, too, sees age diversity within its ranks as an opportunity. Like many companies, the frm has a growing number of younger employees— and it's eager to mine their insights. So

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