And in one corner, you have the Boomers and what they think of Millennials: “They’re so lazy. They don’t have a good work ethic”
Squaring off on the other side, you have the Millennials and what they think of Boomers: “They don’t have a life. All they do is work.”
We’ve all heard these generalizations before. Now, layer on ethnic differences; Koreans, Indians, black, whites, gays, straights. It can get downright confrontational, or at least difficult to communicate.
Korean-owned Mobis, an auto-parts supplier to Hyundai and KIA Motors employs 1200 workers in Alabama who are Koreans, Indians, black, white, gay and straight and probably other groups we forgot to mention. It is here that training and development specialist, Akil Lloyd, has been tasked with training managers, workers and specialists on diversity and leadership.
Lloyd says Baby Boomers make up the largest group of workers at the Mobis Alabama plant, followed by the Millennials. His goal is to get them to understand each other’s point of view and to break down cultural barriers. He started offering a course twice a month using the video training, Please Respect My Generation, to break the ice. He made the course voluntary but found it’s becoming such “a hot class” that he now has to offer it once a week.
“Boomers understand that Millennials work differently. They don’t mind they’re on their phones or texting because they understand social media. Meanwhile, Millennials see that Boomers need to be self-sufficient, be well-educated and work hard.”
Lloyd says the video training, Please Respect My Generation, is an eye-opener, safely allowing his class participants to break the ice and increase cross-generational communication.
“I had one member of Gen X who had questions she wanted to ask an older worker from the “Traditional” generation, (the oldest work group.) She was hesitant to reach out, assuming he didn’t want to talk. (After all, the “Traditional Generation” is called the “Silent” Generation.) After taking the course and getting some coaching from Lloyd, she was pleased to find the older employee take the time to answer her questions.”
Lloyd says increasing communication and transferring knowledge is a key part of the company’s succession planning as older workers retire. And, to keep the young up and coming leaders from bolting , he’s going to start offering leadership development courses as well. These will also be voluntary and a way for employees to have a shot at a promotion:
“ Our training department is new to the company. We had many leaders who had never taken a training. We want to give more people an opportunity to take a training so that they have an opportunity at a promotion and can say they’ve taken the leadership or management development courses. We want to keep them here. It will save on recruiting costs and we can promote from within.”
But, first, Lloyd has to have enough time to create the leadership development courses. Right now, his time is gobbled up with the popularity of his cross-generational communication classes.
Now, isn’t that refreshing?