John: I was wondering if you have come across/created any activities for groups that were interested in exploring generational issues/awareness?
I wonder about dividing groups by generation (if they have a good mix) and getting them to do the same activity and compare differences on process? Conversations/panels between generations with the right questions would be fruitful too. Thoughts?
Chris: You pose an interesting question. I don't know any activities specific to "generational issues/awareness" and have yet to create/develop anything specific myself.
My question back to you is, What problem are you wanting to solve with such activities? (I have a pretty good idea, but I'm interested in your answer.)
I've had a number of clients over the past year that have expressed concern over the dynamics between the "older" and "newer" (i.e., younger) employees. When I worked with them we explored the behaviors (things seen and heard) that surfaced through the program activities - Which behaviors were working for them and which ones where not?. Then, it was all about deciding what the group wanted to keep doing and what they wanted to change (or start doing). Some behaviors (good or bad) did relate to different ways of thinking, which could have been attributed to generational issues - but is that the REAL issue?
In my mind it's all about diversity. This is a BIG word in the workplace and in educational settings across the world as of late. Age gaps (that might include different ways of thinking, acting and being) are simply diverse groups of people challenged to find ways to work together.
John: Thanks for your reply. I am surprised that there are not many/any generational activities out there!
I am not trying to solve any problem per se. I look at generational stuff as a generational intelligence like emotional intelligence with 4 categories:
1. self awareness
2. self management
3. social awareness
4. social management
I would like to raise [generational] intelligence,
A lot of clients have been talking and asking about generational training. And I have been scratching my head and am curious.
Is all this generational stuff just different behaviors as you mentioned? Is it different cultural dimensions? Is it a hoax? Or is it more?
My leaning is toward more. I get to work with groups (7th graders, MBA students, etc.) now over decades. I am getting older and they remain the same age. So it could be me being different/older but I see a difference in these groups. For one, they all seem nicer. And less strategic. And they jump to a solution...I call this firing...and they keep on firing without any sense of ready or aim (their world is one of velocity). They also do not seem strategically interested in going in a straight line from A to B and would rather go out in some tangential direction away from B but thinking that it still leads to B (don't know if I am clear here?). Do you see any of this?
So I am big on raising awareness and managing that new awareness for a different result.
I was recently taught 2 new words. Ethnocentric (believing that your way is the only way or the best way) and ethnorelative (believing that there are many ways/thoughts/cultural preferences which are different than yours yet valid and important for you to master also to be a great leader). This has changed my thinking immensely. My awareness and management of self and others has shifted because of this. I have moved away from binary thinking to dialetic (AND)...that multiple ways are both/all right. I would like to look into generational issues with the same light.
I am not a researcher [but] like to test things and gain data right away. Which ties into the experiential activity field we are in.
Why not divide groups by generations and see how they solve problems/think? Is there any correlation to generations?
The messy part is that sociologists pick the dates of generations and they do not agree to dates exactly. And there is [the] middle of the generation as well as at the beginning or at the end which would affect people differently.
People from different generations seem to look at each other as if they were aliens. Nanu nanu! How to shine light here?
I hope this answers some of your questions about my interest in generations.
It just so happens that (based on a recent recommendation from Michael Cardus) I started reading the book, Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (2009) by Edgar Schein. So far it's been an engaging read since I can correlate a lot of the teambuilding I do directly to helping behaviors. Here are a few points from the first two sections of the book that, I believe, can relate to our generational issues/awareness discussion:
- Helping is a fundamental human relationship...[it] is a basic relationship that moves things forward. (Preface). [Note: cites are from a Kindle reader app in portrait mode on an iPad 2.]
- All relationships are governed by cultural rules that tell us how to behave in relation to each other...in any given culture there will be a set of universal rules that, if violated, cause the person to be ostracized or isolated (p. 8)
- "Social economics" is part of cultural relationships - it involves the "face" that we build, the reputation we have (or think we have and deserve), and our interactions with others. If the rules of social economics are violated [possibly because the rules are not understood across cultures and generations] then friction occurs. [This point can be linked to "norming" in group development or "Full Value Contracts" we develop with groups.] (pp. 11-13)
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D. (and John)