I attended a great seminar yesterday as part of the Southwest Indiana Chamber’s Family Business Alliance, which dealt with working through generational differences in a family business. The seminar was created and led by Dr. Greg McCann of McCann and Associates. Dr. McCann is an expert in the field of coaching businesses and is an owner in a family business himself. He is also a professor and founder of Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center.
Our daughter, Emily Manzo, who is VP of Sales and Marketing for AlphaGraphics , was a participant on a panel of 4 GenYer’s who are all in leadership roles in their family business. The panel did a great job in discussing the virtues and difficulties of cross generational relationships in business. We all took a lot of notes and there were great discussions surrounding what is a very hot topic in today’s workforce.
Here is what we are fairly certain of from Dr. McCann’s talk:
- By 2025 75% of the workforce will be from Generation Y.
- They embrace change, can be audacious (in a positive way) and want to be a part of the process.
- They are the leaders in technology and innovation.
- They prize relationships and want to have partnerships in the workplace for learning and for teaching.
- They crave authenticity and transparency.
- They are agile in their approach and can multi-task well.
Those were just a few of the statistics and proven qualities of this important generation in our world. We all need to recognize this value, embrace it, and work to make sure the cross generation culture is healthy in our businesses.
The other, and maybe most important element in our discussion was this- every generation- including the traditionalists (Ages 71-94), Baby Boomers (Ages 52-70), Gen X (Ages 36-51) and Gen Y/Millennials (Ages 16-35), have incredible depth and breadth of knowledge, work ethic, ideas, values, and worth to bring to the table to sustain a successful business.
My personal hero as a business person was my father, a lifelong corrugated box executive, who left this earth way too early. He would be 93 now, and as a business person he embraced the younger generation, sought counsel from them and gave plenty of counsel to them. He was a pioneer in crossing all racial barriers and was instrumental in forming a minority supplier workforce coalition in Evansville. He was a tireless community worker and advocate for business in our region. He cared for people a lot more than he cared for process, but he was remarkable with both.
I can only imagine how he would feel seeing his son, daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter owning and operating a family business together. He would have loved to watch the millennials operate. And so do I! The key to success in any organization is how we communicate with each other. I encourage you to step back, take a look at your organization, and make sure you are taking action to engage across all generations. We all have a lot we can learn from each other.