Mind the Gap: Brett


George was inducted into the local board of REALTORS® in 1984 at the age of 25. He fell in love with the Government Affairs committee and wanted to be the chair someday. Finally his day has come. The president of the association, Connie (a Baby Boomer), has given him the appointment he knows he has earned.

President Connie heard that George was suggesting the “same old folks” for the committee. She told him that she was adding Susie, a 23-year-old and daughter of a city councilman, and Tom, a 34-year-old from the Leadership Academy, with 10 years of real estate experience.

George was well prepared for his first meeting. But, after calling the meeting to order, Susie started with her comments. George called her out of order, referencing Robert’s Rules of Order. Susie, uninterested in “Robert’s Rules,” felt rejected. George was also upset by Tom’s behavior: Tom was taking notes on his iPhone and texting.

After the meeting, George ran into Connie and asked why she had encumbered him with two inexperienced members. George explained what went on during the meeting. He demanded that Connie remove them ASAP.

If you were Connie, how would you handle the demand? What advice would you give George about handling things better?

Did you Mind the Gap correctly? See what Brett Brown, NARLA 2012 Graduate, has to say:


Let’s start by tagging our generational titles: George is a “Baby Boomer,” Tom is from “Generation X” and Susie is from “Generation Y.” Boomers like George in our story come from a generation with the characteristics of self-improvement, self-belief, self-fulfillment and often will reject or redefine traditional values. However, they believe in the process vs. the results—hence the committee needs to run as he sees fit.

Tom, our Gen Xer, may have the characteristics of his peers, which include work and life balance. As perhaps a former latch-key kid that was forced to fend for himself, he may have limited loyalty to employers. He likes teamwork but the work needs to be fun. George will have to bend a bit to make Tom feel welcome and part of the team. They are used to the instantaneous responses from computers and games.

Our Gen Y, Susie, will be tech savvy, independent, needy, pro community, environmentally conscious and pro diversity. As a team player and with an interest in skills training, she can be a great asset to the committee as long as she understands the correct process for bringing up new business.

At the next possible chance, the Education Director should put on a mini-workshop on how to work with the different generations. It should be a topic for all Committee Leadership as well as the members of the Leadership Class.

Connie has a number of issues to deal with in our story. George first resented the request from Connie to place her choices on “his” committee. Boomers often see committee work as a “take charge” and “my” committee rather than what service the committee was established to perform. Connie’s first step will be to convince George to accept participation from everyone and that it is not “his” committee—he serves at the pleasure of the Board. Connie could explain that like many Gen Yers, Susie was excited to participate in the conversations and may just not know proper procedures for getting on the agenda. Gen X is quite comfortable texting and making notes on a laptop during a meeting, and Tom should be allowed to do so if he is quiet and nondisruptive.