Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Generations talk their way toward harmony

A quick note from Bill: Here's Part 2 of my two-part look at the MACPA's recent Generational Summit. Read Part 1 here.


What happens when you get four generations of CPAs together in the same room and let them pass around a microphone? You get a flood of insights on what makes the generations tick.

What happens when you let them keep talking? You come really close to bridging the generational gaps that are crippling the profession.

As the MACPA's 2013 Generational Summit drew to a close, Tom Hood asked attendees -- nearly 100 of them, representing each of the four generations at work today -- to come up with their best ideas for closing the generational divides. Here are some of them:

  • Start with the tone at the top. Generational discord will disappear only if your organization's top brass are committed to making it disappear.
  • Focus on each individual's strengths. How does each person -- regardless of age -- make the organization better?
  • Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more. Get all of your generations together in the same room to collaborate and solve problems. Make your expectations transparent. Provide frequent feedback. Break down those generational silos. Get your generations talking to each other, not about each other.
  • Be open to change. Embrace new technologies. Be more flexible and adaptable when it comes to work-life balance and work schedules. And focus on results, not on methods and strategies.
  • Train your teams and yourself. Offer mentoring programs that will let millennials learn from the more experienced Xers and boomers. Then, offer reverse-mentoring opportunities for your older workers to learn from your millennials. Everyone has plenty to learn -- and plenty to teach.
  • Make sure your culture emphasizes trust, mutual respect, humility, and appreciation.

Of course, coming up with a laundry list of stuff we ought to do is the easy part. Putting those ideas into action is a bit more complicated.

But it does bring us a step closer to generational harmony, doesn't it?


Bill Sheridan