The Multigenerational Workplace - Take Your Dad With You
A few weeks back Linked In sponsored a workplace initiative, "Take Your Parents to Work Day." I saw a CNN clip about it while eating breakfast in Minneapolis right before I was to present a workshop on "Being Generationally Savvy" at the annual conference of the Association for Middle Level Educators. As I watched the newscaster ask some semi-sarcastic questions to the reporter, I thought to myself as well, "Just another helicopter parent moment where overly interested Boomer parents get to join their beloved child in his or her workplace - of all places." Then I gulped. My 82-year-old father, and my 44-year-old brother, my Dad's chauffeur that day, were both attending my session that afternoon. Wow. Why not bring the whole family to work, Jennifer?
My book, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicate, Collaborate & Create Community was just published last week. And my workshop experience in Minneapolis gave me much l food for thought about our identities – generational and otherwise. I always start my Gen Savvy workshops emphasizing that the generational perspective is but one filter through which we view the world. As I went through that session many other filters of perception were highlighted for me.
A few filters and highlights of the day...
- Physical abilities and challenges – How long it took for my father to get access to a wheelchair so he could make his way to my session – located on the lower level, at the end of a corridor in a large convention center. How long it took to get back upstairs and how it wasn't immediately easy to find a chair to sit in close to the door visible to a driver as he waited for his ride home. I can always see an escalator but where are those elevators anyway? Parents with toddlers in strollers, you can tell me. You know.
- Age and developmental differences – The leadership luncheon at the AMLE conference included learning 'middle level appropriate cheers' to celebrate our colleagues that included all attendees standing up and not only cheering in novel ways but with related hand gestures including the roller coaster cheer –"ch ch ch ch – weeeee!" (hands up up up and then a swoop) - and the fireworks cheer – ss ss ss – POP! – teh teh teh teh" (hands up up up and then sparkle sparkle sparkle). While I don't think those cheers would 'play well' in many a high school faculty meeting, I 'roller coastered' with the best of them.
- Regional differences – Halfway through my workshop, two women in their early 30's, who described themselves as 'hunting widows,' informed me they had to leave the session early, as deer hunting season started the next morning and they needed to get home to allow their husbands to head up north to ready themselves for the start of rifle deer hunting season in the morning. I learned a bit about the different types of hunting: rifle hunting, bow hunting and muzzle hunting and their various seasons too. The goodbye of these participants led to a conversation with the group about how critical this season is for those in more rural areas who depend on the meat they gather at this time for their winter food. Rural and urban. Midwest vs. Bay Area.
Add to those insights...
- My conversation with Latino teachers in Salinas, CA who felt the conversation about different generations needed to include whether or not the person you were talking to immigrated to the USA, and at what age, and how those answers would deeply affect one's identity. The complexity of immigration, assimilation and generation.
- Or discussion in Bangkok at the EARCOS conference with international school teachers working China who taught me the colloquial term, "Post- 80's," referring to a generational group, part of the USA's Millennials in terms of birth dates, yet with a Chinese cultural/historical filter as the Post-80's were born between 1980-1989 in Mainland China after the introduction of the 'one-child' policy. The policy is being reconsidered now. A future set of Baby Boomers?
My AMLE session was great fun. My dad and brother learned more me and I learned about them through new filters. I also learned much from the group - generationally and socio-culturally. Who will I encounter tomorrow and what prisms will he and she look through? We see the world with many a worldview in each of us and among us. In the spirit of Whitman, we contain multitudes - inside and out.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916, Skype me at jenniferabrams, tweet me @jenniferabrams or email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
I am 'officially' starting to present on Having Hard Conversations - Part II. The workshops are sponsored by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and are offered in both Northern and Southern CA this coming January-March, 2014. If you have attended a Having Hard Conversations session), check out ACSA's link for more information on both their upcoming HHC I and HHC II sessions. Those who are not members of ACSA can also register. Both teachers and administrators welcome. Check out the locations and dates on the registration forms found at the link above.
For an upcoming work session with Bob Marshak, I have been re-reading Covert Processes at Work: Managing the Five Hidden Dimensions of Organizational Change. Amazon says, "This is the first and only guidebook that specifically outlines methodologies for diagnosing and dealing with all of the "hidden" or covert factors that can subtly sabotage even the most meticulously planned change processes." I will write about it in an upcoming newsletter and be on the lookout for ideas from the book in my NEW HHC II workshop in 2014.
I am also reading Ed Schein's newest work, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. Ah, our culture...we 'tell' versus 'ask.' Amazon says, "All too often when we interact with people—especially those who report to us—we simply tell them what we think they need to know. This shuts them down. To generate bold new ideas, to avoid disastrous mistakes, to develop agility and flexibility, we need to practice Humble Inquiry." Sounds helpful to me.
Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!
Supporting Principal Effectiveness in Leading
Teacher Evaluation and Supports and Common Core Implementation Meeting
Having Hard Conversations – Plenary Session
Council of Chief State School Officers
Lake Buena Vista, FL
Hard Conversation Barriers to School Improvement
2-day Pre-Conference with Bob Garmston
Learning Forward Annual Conference
Being Generationally Savvy
Session with Luciana Cardarelli, Peel DSB
Learning Forward Annual Conference
Having Hard Conversations
New Administrators and Others
San Francisco Unified School District
San Francisco, CA
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time!
Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues. You may reprint this newsletter in whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to www.jenniferabrams.com