Millennials Could Speak the Same Language as Gen X...What Does That Mean?

Is it even possible for a Millennial to work with a Baby Boomer?

All we need to do is look at best-in-class organizations such as Google, Amazon, Nike, Starbucks and Apple to find the answer. Indeed they can and they do with great results.

These companies recognize their success is tied to their diversity and the common language they share.

My belief in the power of a common language was strengthened even further when I was in France recently and witnessed the powerful shift that’s possible when a group of people speak the same language.

One of the young men, a Gen Zer from the U.S., that traveled with me spoke French to the French, and when he did, he immediately had their respect. He was the only one in our group to do so, but it was fascinating to see the walls just melt away simply by talking a common language.

What if we’re not speaking the same language in our organizations due to diversity or generational differences? Could this be what’s holding us back from being a high-performance team? Is this what creates walls of misunderstanding and contempt? I submit it’s our diverse differences that actually make us better and help us grow. That being said a common language or common vision that connects us all is essential. Do you speak French?

We’re all different—and that presents challenges—but also incredible opportunities. I’ve seen the five pillars of Red Shoes bridge great divides among generations in the workplace because it becomes a common language regardless of what generation we come from whether we’re called a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer, Millennial or Gen Zer. While there are many things that make us different, we are all alike in our ability to understand the very simple concept of the Red Shoes pillars of Awareness, Gratitude, Everyone has a Story, Respect and Putting Yourself Out There.

And although the execution of each of these pillars is unique for everyone, organizations who embrace a Red Shoes Culture have no problem having everyone understand the objective of living in a Red Shoes way. It’s their common language. As a result, Red Shoes Cultures produce incredible results because diverse groups come together in a way that connects us all.

Why It’s Worth It

Red Shoes is making a huge impact in large corporations and small companies alike, because it becomes a common language and it’s one that people get very passionate about. This is how we were all raised.

Maybe it’s not so much that we’re Millennials, Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Or that we’re from the Midwest or the South; from the East or West Coasts. Maybe it’s not that we’re Americans, English, French, Chinese or any other nationality. When we draw together and create a connection because of a shared language, we can respect our differences and, most importantly, leverage those differences to our collective advantage.

It’s because of these differences that we’re stronger when we connect and come together.

Most organizations have multiple generations working alongside one another. Friction occurs between the generations when the sole focus is about our differences. When you implement the Red Shoes pillars, each generation can communicate with each other in a way the other generations understand. That’s when the magic happens and those differences are bridged and teams access the unique attributes of each for the good of all.

So, Millennials may get a bad rap for their work ethic, but believe me they are amazing in a lot of different ways. They are bold. They desire to make a difference and they want to change the world. They have their priorities right and understand the balance of life. Yet, at the same time they can be impatient and want instant gratification. They have kept me young and I am grateful. In the former tech company that I lead, more than 73% of the workforce were Millennials and they made me better.

Baby Boomers, our legacy leaders, are known for being workaholics and are excellent mentors and team players. They may not have the tech abilities of younger generations and are less likely to embrace change, but they are learning and they are adapting.

Playing the “middle child” role in so many ways, Gen Xers are valued for their work ethic and are master jugglers—committed to juggling work and family time. They are peacekeepers and are less inclined to challenge management even when they disagree with them.

The most tech savvy of all the generations are the Gen Zers and they are adept multitaskers and natural entrepreneurs. Known as the “always on” generation, their problem-solving abilities are heavily reliant on tech which may make human problem-solving situations a challenge.

These are all generalities, but it’s easy to see how the expertise and experience of one generation can benefit the others if we can solve the communication issues.

Not Just a Theory, It Works

Over the past few months, I had the honor of sharing the core values of Red Shoes Living with several multigenerational executive teams. During those sessions, I saw the impact of using the Red Shoes pillars to connect diverse groups that included 70-year-old Baby Boomers to Gen Zers and everything in between. After our time together, these pillars became the core of everything these executive teams did.

Isn’t it time for organizations to leverage the diversity of generations and diversity of nationalities to become more successful? The easiest way I know how to do this is by adopting the Red Shoes Pillars as your common language. It’s a powerful way to connect and honor the contributions of all.