Mind the Gap: Gary


A Board of Directors assigns a task force to work on a project: 62-year-old Mike, 38-year-old John and 28-year-old Karen. Mike volunteers to chair. At the first meeting, Mike passes out an agenda, assigns tasks to John and Karen, lays out his vision of accountability and gives each of them a schedule of meeting dates. All the time Mike is talking, Karen has her laptop open and is noticeably typing. She stops only to question Mike about why they have so many meetings: “After all, can’t we just handle this by email?”

Mike responds, “This is important. Can’t you make time for it?” While his inner monologue is saying, “Can’t you close that computer and focus on this meeting for 20 minutes?” Mike looks to John for reinforcement, but John is noticeably quiet. John is thinking to himself, “Who made you boss?” All three leave the meeting frustrated.

You are the president of the association that assigned the task force. You have received phone calls from Mike, John and Karen expressing that they don’t think this task force is going to work. How do you pull them together?

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


As the president of the association it is important for me to bring awareness to the fact that all three task force members, although different in many aspects, have the same goal. Tolerance and Communication are key here. The Silent Generation will seek out face-to-face meetings as their preferred method of communication, and while Baby Boomers will embrace technology, they too prefer face-to-face communication. Boomers coming from a generation of corporate America and long work weeks will put projects first. This generation is used to meetings and a collaborative effort. Boomers would serve the team effort well by taking on a mentoring role and backing off a little on the structure.

Generation Xers do not embrace the institutional mentality and lean towards productivity versus time put in on a project. Defined as the “latch-key” generation, a generation where both parents worked and the Xer had to learn how to be self-sufficient, Generation Xers are very efficient and will get the project done well. They just need some direction, then turn them loose. Too much accountability will likely halt their productivity. Social Media is used by Generation Xers, but not to the degree of Generation Y.

Generation Y is a generation that absolutely covets technology. Very likely a laptop or iPad will be open during a meeting to take notes electronically or to pull up information relevant to the meeting discussion. Generation Y will indeed question authority, but it is for the sake of moving the project forward and not simply challenging the status quo. Similar to Generation X, Generation Y will welcome mentoring, but they also will want some space to cultivate their creativity. Generation Y is THE social media generation and will use social networking for their collaborative outreach.

When comparing Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers you begin to see that although they have different avenues to arrive at the end goal, they ALL appreciate collaboration, a job well done and recognition. In recognizing our differences and “standing” in our similarities we can structure a balance.

A possible solution would be to meet with John, Karen and Mike together. Share with them the descriptions of the different generations, how they are similar and how they are different. Get each of them to identify with a generation and its characteristics and talk about how they see those characteristics playing out in themselves in a meeting or committee setting. Then have each of them identify how they can work together with each other’s characteristics in mind.