Mar 20, 2019Did you know that for the first time ever, we have five generations in the workplace? Five! In a time where diversity and inclusion are (thankfully!) a top priority for organizations, generational diversity can be easy to overlook. Yet, each generation brings diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and behavioral norms to work that, when effectively connected, can improve organizational culture and performance.
The notion of so many generations now working together hadn’t really occurred to us until we watched Chip Conley’s TED Talk, “What baby boomers can learn from millennials at work – and vice versa”. Conley, Airbnb exec—and, coincidentally, Wiley-published author—found himself as the company elder when he brought his hospitality industry expertise to the (at the time) up-and-coming tech startup.
“The more I’ve seen and learned about our respective generations, the more I realize that we often don’t trust each other enough to actually share our respective wisdom,” Conley explains. “I believe, looking at the modern workplace, that the trade agreement of our time is opening up these intergenerational pipelines of wisdom so that we can all learn from each other.”
We’ve talked before about how Everything DiSC® can help bridge the gap between different working styles…but can DiSC help us connect people across the five generations in today’s modern workplace? We believe it can!
People often ask us:
- Do people’s DiSC styles change as they get older?
- Are there differences among generations on DiSC style?
The short answer is differences in DiSC style based on generations is very, very slight. In statistical terms, age accounts for less than 1% of variance in DiSC styles. This means if you look at all the differences we see across DiSC styles, less than 1% of those differences are related to age.
In other words, DiSC transcends differences in age and serves as a roadmap to connect people across generations. Through this roadmap, organizations can foster work environments that enable all five generations to teach and learn from each other.
Take, for example, a team of two Millennials, a Gen-Xer and a Baby Boomer. They may feel quite different from each other and struggle to connect, blaming this struggle on differences in age and experience. In learning their DiSC styles, they start to see each other from a new perspective. Instead of two Millennials, a Gen-Xer and a Baby Boomer, they might discover they are an S-style, a CD-style, and two D-styles! Because DiSC delivers actionable ways to connect across workstyles, this team can experiment with new, more effective, ways to work together.
Conley states, “I don’t care if you’re in the B-to-B world, the B-to-C world, the C-to-C world or the A-to-Z world, business is fundamentally H-to-H: human to human.” We couldn’t agree more. Implementing Everything DiSC in an organization connects people on a human level. It helps people understand more about themselves, of course. But maybe more importantly, it also helps people understand others and how they can appreciate their similarities and value their differences.
We, like you, believe in the power of connecting diversity in the workplace and generational diversity is no exception. We’ll close with another quote from Conley:
“We have five generations in the workplace today, and we can operate like separate isolationist countries, or we can actually start to find a way to bridge these generational borders. And it’s time for us to actually look at how to change up the physics of wisdom so it actually flows in both directions, from old to young and from young to old.”