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  • Olga C. Piehler -

You can teach an old dog - new tricks!

Before anyone gets offended … let me say … I’m not calling anyone “OLD” … This saying came to mind as I thought of how we as humans learn and grow from past mistakes. In some ways we can say it is Darwinism at its finest: learn and survive - don’t learn well, we all know what happens then - cue in Blockbuster, Kodak, and about to join cable television.

As I sipped my coffee this morning and read through my LinkedIn feed to get my mind ready for the day with some amazing pieces of wisdom (I did say, learn and survive so I’m practicing survival) it struck me how many articles pertained to Gen Z - In the days of newspapers being sold in the streets I can just hear the call-outs by the paperboys “EXTRA, EXTRA GenZ IS COMING!!!!!!” “ARE YOU READY FOR GenZ?????” “WHAT MOTIVATES GenZ-ers - GET IT HERE!!!!” (I need to give props here to @RyanJenkins - he is my guru at the moment when it comes to Gen Z - so you should check him out - I get a lot of survival nuggets of wisdom in the GenZ topic from him everyday.) Back to my moment of ”struck-ness” … the thought that came to mind was … “Boy, we sure are not messing around with this Generation... Millennials got the short end of the stick when they joined the workforce!” When Millennials joined the workforce the newspaper headlines would have read very differently perhaps like this: “EXTRA, EXTRA MILLENNIALS, WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?????”

"MILLENNIALS ARE HERE … THEY WANT TO GET THERE LIKE NOW!!!!!!!” “MILLENNIALS, THE EXODUS - NO WORK ETHIC!!!” Could we have been more wrong? Could we have been more short sighted? Could we have been more concerned with our “old” tricks that we completely missed the new opportunities for organizational growth in front of us?

I happen to be a GenX-er and as any generation before me and after me, have been influenced by the contextual events that surrounded my upbringing. When we, GenX-ers, joined the workforce we brought new ideas about autonomous work (we are independent task masters) and about flexibility regarding working hours … and we would have had headlines that read “EXTRA, EXTRA GenX-ers, THEY THINK THEY CAN JUST DO IT!!!!!” but the headlines would have been short-lived because you see, there were not that many of us. We were assimilated. We were absorbed into the “that’s not how things work around here.” And so when Millennials came into the scene, the thought was … watch us “teach them” … never did it crossed our minds that our “old tricks” were just not going to work and we needed to learn new ones and so survive. The lesson was a painful one to learn as many bright, talented, innovative, collaborative, ambitious young stars left our organizations.

I am thrilled to see that we are growing and learning from our mistakes and that we are getting ready to welcome, motivate, lead and coach the bright talent that is about to join our organizational families so that all together not only can we survive but THRIVE.

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