Lately, I’ve been catching myself saying to my kids, ‘When I was your age I didn’t get to go there’ or, ‘I didn’t behave that way’ or, ‘I appreciated…’
And every time I start the sentence, my kids get this glossed over look in their eyes. Their eyes literally roll back into their heads.
Last week, I picked up my son from Canada’s Wonderland and I said…(yup, you guessed it), ‘Do you know how lucky you are to be able to go to Canada’s Wonderland?’ My 14 year old said to me, “Mom, what’s your point? I do feel lucky and I do appreciate it, so why do you keep saying that?”
He has a point! He doesn’t understand how I was raised; he wasn’t there. My kids only know what they know. It’s somewhat logical to understand why they take their lifestyle and upbringing for granted; it’s all they know.
I thought about that all the way home. I was raised completely different by my parents than the way I’m raising my children (for better or worse). If I wanted them to behave exactly the way I did when I was 14 (part angel, part devil) then maybe I should raise them exactly the way my parents raised me. That’s not really possible though. Because here’s the thing; we are all raised in different political, social and economic times, not to mention with cultural differences.
We all come into the workplace with different values and beliefs for exactly these reasons, however, we often find ourselves comparing our values and beliefs with theirs and believing that ours are superior. Admit it, we often say things like, ‘I don’t understand, I never got a succession plan when I started working, but I managed to work my way up the ladder’.
As leaders it’s important to understand what each person on our team values, irrespective of when they were born. Every generation brings strengths to the workplace and it’s our job as leaders to keep everyone focused on one common goal. We need to focus on the strengths of each individual and create synergy in the workplace. Despite generational differences, we all want the same thing. We want Mastery. Teach us how to do the job properly. Make us experts, ambassadors to the brand. Give us autonomy to do the job. Allow us to be collaborative, creative and most importantly, remind us why the job is important.
Spend more time trying to understand each other instead of spending time focused on why your values and beliefs are superior. We don’t accomplish anything when we do this. We don’t change behaviours and certainly don’t inspire people to move to action.
As for my kids, it’s time I stop expecting them to live through my past upbringing. Maybe I can better understand them through the lens in which they have experienced their life. That’s not likely to get their rooms cleaned up, but it might stop the eye-rolling.