‘GETTING’ THE GENERATION GAP

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Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce””one in three American employees are between the ages of 18 and 34. This is the first time in history that four generations are in the workplace together””and it won’t be much longer before there are five generations working side by side!

—The following age groups make up the demographics:
•Traditionalists: born before 1945
•Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
•Gen X’ers: 1965-1980
•Millennials: 1981-2001

In his book, Sticking Points, Haydn Shaw says the most common complaint he hears from frustrated people in all four generations about the other generations is, “They don’t get it.” From his experience as a leadership coach, “it” refers to a sticking point (hence, the title of his book). “It” includes: communication, decision making, dress code, fun at work, loyalty, meetings, policies, and respect, among others.

He found that the different generations won’t all agree on these areas, which causes friction in an office. However, managers of optometric practices can use these points of contention to their advantage.

Each demographic brings a unique perspective to the workplace. While some may be drastically different, think dress codes (suits vs. khakis) and communication styles (phone calls vs. texting), these differences don’t have to add up to a dysfunctional workplace. In fact, understanding these differences will help doctors better manage and lead staff and coworkers.

How? By leveraging each group’s strengths. Shaw outlined the following strong suits for each age generation:

•Traditionalists know that there is no trophy until you put in the hard work.
•Baby Boomers know that good processes save time and prevent errors.
•Gen X’ers can show others how to cut to the chase.
•Millennials can figure out where the shortcuts are.

Each group working together and sharing their strength will make the most productive, well-rounded teams. For instance, the hard work (experience) of Traditionalists and Baby Boomers can be combined with the time-saving technology and attitudes of Gen X’ers and Millennials.

But, just as important, understanding these different age groups will help you communicate better with your patients. When you open yourself up to different ways of communicating and doing business, you will get it.

Joanne Van Zuidam, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
jvz@visioncareproducts.com

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