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Can potluck and avocado toast coexist: Varghese Thomas discusses managing inter-generational teams in the PR industry

Varghese Thomas

In our rapidly evolving world, a generational divide often emerges as a source of tension and misunderstanding between the older and younger generations. The generational gap sometimes feels like a high-stakes "Guess the Emoji" game between older and younger folks.

Embrace the diversity potluck 

The younger generation might be tempted to dismiss the older ones, thinking they still use carrier pigeons instead of smartphones. On the flip side, the older generation might view the younger one as a bunch of emoji wizards casting spells with their thumbs. It's like watching a classic movie remake where one generation is reading the subtitles, and the other is trying to explain that there used to be no subtitles. Therefore, exploring the complexities of this intergenerational gap and the importance of both sides harnessing each other's strengths to foster growth and unity is essential.

Hold on, because diversity isn't just about race, gender, or whether you remember a time before the internet—it's also about generational diversity. It's like having a buffet with traditionalists serving up grandma's recipes, baby boomers insisting on potlucks, and Gen Z wanting avocado toast at every meal.

Here's where it gets fun: the young guns often see the old-timers as tech-challenged, like trying to teach a cat to use a smartphone. And they might think the wisdom of their elders is from the era of stone tablets and smoke signals.

Conversely, the more experienced generation occasionally views the younger ones as potential disruptors, fearing they might be a stone's throw away from transforming the workplace into a colossal Insta Reel production studio.

The coexistence of multiple generations within the same workplace or society offers a rich tapestry of experiences, ideas, and skills. However, the true essence of diversity lies in recognising and appreciating these differences rather than allowing them to become divisive factors.

Promoting Inter-Generation Conversations 

During my days at Cisco, they actively promoted diversity and inclusion, recognising the value of generational diversity. They offer flexible work arrangements, allowing employees of different generations to achieve better work-life balance. Additionally, Cisco encouraged cross-generational collaboration through project teams and mentorship programs.

Therefore, the path forward lies in recognising the inherent strength that each generation brings. So, here's the secret sauce: each generation brings something unique to the party. The youngsters bring WiFi passwords, fresh ideas, and emoji skills. 

The seasoned pros bring analogue wisdom, the calm in the storm, and the ability to find a phone booth in a digital world. Think of it as the Avengers of the workplace, with Gen Z as Iron Man and the boomers as Captain America. Together, they're unstoppable, creating innovations that make even Tony Stark proud.

To illustrate this, consider the case of technology companies like Apple and Microsoft. These industry giants have harnessed the energy and innovation of younger employees while valuing the experience and leadership of older executives like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The synergy between the generations has resulted in groundbreaking innovations and sustained success.

A notable political example of intergenerational collaboration occurred during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a seasoned politician, partnered with his vice president, Henry A. Wallace, a younger and more progressive leader. Wallace's fresh ideas influenced Roosevelt's policies, including the New Deal and International Relations. This partnership exemplified the potential for synergy between experienced and emerging leaders, resulting in groundbreaking policies that shaped the post-war world order.

Bridging the generational gap requires a shift in mindset from both younger and older generations. The younger generation should value the wisdom and experience of their elders, while the older generation should appreciate the vitality and innovation of the youth. 

It's all about embracing the diversity potluck, where each dish—err, generation—brings its own flavour to the table. By mixing wisdom and innovation, emojis and handwritten notes, we can harness the full potential of each generation's unique contributions.

Varghese M Thomas is the Chief Communication Officer - at Greaves Cotton Limited

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