June 13, 2024

Creating a bond between the disparate generations that occupy our workforce is one of the most common things I am asked to speak about. This indicates to me that generational friction might actually be one of the biggest problems faced by American businesses today. People generally don’t spend a boat load of money on a keynote speaker (expert) to bring a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. So, for all practical purposes, I have at least circumstantial evidence that there is generational friction at best and animosity in many cases.

The root cause of this enmity between generations manifests itself with a genuine lack of trust that results from a lack of understanding. Even more so, it displays a lack of perspective on the part of each side of the difficulties. This was put on display for me in the local Winco Foods grocery store where I asked permission and snapped a photo that you see attached here. It simply reads “Trust Nobody”. The young man who was wearing the hoodie was kind enough to humor me and comply as I asked him questions. It became evident quickly that he really did not wish to trust anyone, especially someone who was older. I think I know why.

When I was a “Boomer” kid, trust had to be earned. You were to be seen and not heard. You were to do what you were told and had very little opportunity to challenge authority. Then your 18th birthday came and you broke out to explore and learn stuff the hard way so your new boss, not a parent or teacher, could make you comply. Compliance, effort and discipline were the path to earning trust. It was never given.

Gen X became the latch key kids who got some trust before they were ready for it. They had to be trusted just so the house wouldn’t burn down. They were given responsibility of caring for themselves which was unheard of in generations prior. This given responsibility carried with it a measure of trust that was also given prior to being earned. This new pathway to trust was a mild combination of given trust and earned trust. It was factually a step of faith on the part of the giver.

Gen Y and each subsequent generation has experienced increasing levels of given trust. It has been a requirement based upon many cultural factors including two parents forced to work due to economic conditions, single parent households and the increasing influence of the educational system. The youth has been left alone to fend for themselves and in a large sense have done better than I would have thought.

There in lies the dichotomy. Boomers and now even Gen X is slow to give trust, Y, Z and now even Alpha’s are reluctant to give some back. If you’d like to get the real solution to this trust issue, hire me for the full keynote!

June 13, 2024

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