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Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce: Part 1 social media conflict

Last month, the Business Record concluded its 2009 Power Breakfast series with the topic "Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce." The breakfast held at the breathtaking Des Moines Club on the 34th floor of the Ruan building was filled with Des Moines business people seeking answers to Power breakfast a common issue facing their workplaces. 

The breakfast featured a presentation from Seth Mattison of Bridgeworks LLC, followed by a panel discussion featuring myself, Seth and colleagues Rita Perea (Rita Perea Consulting), Ted Williams (The Williams group) and moderator Adam Steen of 25 Connections.

Seth encouraged older generations to deal with millennial workers by understanding the M factor that makes Millennials tick. The M-factor can be explained in seven key focal points that will be released in Bridgeworks’ upcoming book of the same title. Seth took one of those factors, social media, and challenged older generations to do the following at work:

•    Confirm and verify before judging. A Facebook page on an employee's computer screen might be the employee reaching out for information. However, it's also possible that the employee is doing something that has nothing to do with business. "But if they're meeting expectations, who cares?"

•    Create clear policies and procedures regarding privacy issues. Seth noted the tendency of Millennials to “share everything” both personally and professionally. "The line is blurred,” however, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not the answer.

•    Put social networking to work for you. People do business with people they like. Rather than dismiss the trend, learn how to make it work for you and the company.

•    Don't let the real water cooler dry up. While many Boomers are quick to point out the over reliance of Millennials on technology, the alternative is to “ take them to lunch” and “mentor them” on the importance of real conversations.

Fellow IowaBiz blogger Nathan Wright has also recently shared similar advice on this matter and I think companies should be hard pressed to take heed to these recommendations. While social media will continue to evolve over time, it undoubtedly is a behemoth, and everyone will need to decide if they want to be part of the steamroller or part of the pavement. 

You can read more about this Power Breakfast from Business Record Editor Jim Pollock’s article or watch video from the event as well. My next blog entries will focus on broader conversations I have had with the other panelist and attendees of the event as well as an exclusive one on one conversation Seth and I had following the Power Breakfast. Stay tuned!


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It's great to see people tackling the issues effecting today's multi-generational workforce. As a member of Gen Y I realize that my work habits are different from others, but it's great to see people respect that and learn from it, just as we have done with our predecessors.

AND, the most important part of this post is the idea of reaching out. If you don't understand why someone is using a specific tool or how it is helping them do their job, ask them about it! I enjoy doing things my own way, but I'm also not scared of talking about it or teaching others. If you make yourself available (love the idea of going out for lunch), these Gen Y workers would probably be more than happy to discuss their workstyle and eagerly learn more about your own.

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