I am pleased to feature Mary Kay Milewski as a guest blogger. I recently attended a social media seminar with Mary Kay and another guest blogger Al Mendez. Experience as both a Human Resource Manager, Executive Training Manager, as well a Dental Practice Administrator, has uniquely positioned Mary Kay Milewski to understand the complex challenges of practicing dentistry in times of exponential change. As an instructor in the Workforce Development Department of the University of Akron, Mary Kay teaches management skills to a wide variety of business including manufacturing, healthcare and service organizations. Her realistic, refreshing approach to areas such as Leadership, Communications, Conflict Resolution and Change Management have given her clients hands on tools to improve the bottom line of their company and to develop their most important asset – their people.
I live in two worlds. I manage my husband’s dental practice in North Eastern Ohio, but I am also a contract trainer for a local university which sends me into a wide a variety of companies to do management training. The management problems we face in dentistry today are really no different than those I see all over the manufacturing and service sectors of our economy. People are people no matter what their profession.
One problem I hear over and over again is how to manage the challenge of generational differences in the workplace. Specifically, managers and supervisors ask me why the “twenty something kids” don’t want to work. And expect to be made a manager during their first week of employment. And leave each day at 4:00 pm on the dot. The younger members of their workforce roll their eyes and ask me why the shall we say “more seasoned” coworkers still can’t figure out how to put an attachment into an email, and why it is such a big deal for “old people” to try something new.
Generational Differences are as old as time. I am sure somewhere deep in a cave somewhere is a hieroglyphic that says “What is with these young kids today?” Each generation has a natural desire to break with the past, to push boundaries, to try to do things differently. I grew up in the 1960’s near Kent State University…generational differences were very alive and well. And while we wrote music and books on our view of the world, once in the workforce, our generations blended together well.
So what’s different now? One of the biggest culprits is the pace of change. Generations used to be divided into periods of twenty to thirty years. A recent New York Times article cited research being done that pointed to technological changes so profound as to dramatically change how young people communicate…every three to five years. Think about it…an eight year old has been raised reading books, but your toddler will view a book as something you download. An eighteen year old will not answer an email or “shudder” an archaic voicemail but send them a text and you get instant response. But their twenty five or thirty year old sibling will be much more open to using email because texting wasn’t part of their adolescence. We’ve created profound intra-generational shifts that will inevitably impact how younger generations communicate and interact with an increasingly complex world.
So what to do? As with all things, first take a deep breath and realize that you cannot stop the change that is coming at us like a runaway train. Stop trying to pound a square peg into a round hole and embrace these generational differences. Accept that a different view is not necessarily a bad thing, but rather that a gift that can help you consider new ways to solve old problems. Embrace these differences instead of trying to make everyone think like you. And get used to change. It’s here to stay.
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