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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: The Only Constant is Change

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The Only Constant is Change

I don’t always feel like I fit the generational descriptions and have always pushed back on being part of Gen X.  I never felt the angst portrayed in Reality Bites nor did I feel the conflict in Office Space (both movies are worth revisiting).  However, needs, wants, desires, perspectives, and approaches continue to change and change again as new generations enter the workforce.  Consider that by 2030 all of the Baby Boomers will be past the age of 65, eligible for Social Security and Medicare, and will have more ability to exit the workforce.

How do we change our approaches to meet the needs of the following generations?  I can assure you that Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z are as different from each other as they are from the Boomers and Veteran generations.  For many in our industry, the need to show up on a job site, perform physical tasks, and shower at the end of the day did not change during the pandemic and likely will remain.  The acceptance and implementation of different styles and approaches in interpersonal relationships certainly has changed.

Get It Done

For us in the older generations, we were brought up on hierarchy, authority, and efficiency.  Younger generations might consider us “stuck in our ways”, inflexible, or afraid of new approaches.  All of those could be true.  From a leadership and management perspective, “get it done” does not resonate with many.  As I work with younger professionals, there is a greater desire to understand the “why” before jumping to the “what and how.”  We, those of us in management roles, need to acknowledge that there can be other approaches and that the younger generations can be creative.  They are also tech savvy in a way I can’t comprehend sometimes.  Provide input opportunities.  Delegate for development.  Loosen your grip.

What Do You Want?

My generation wanted career success.  We wanted to climb the ladder, make career progress, and understand how to get to the next rung.  Subsequent generations have different attitudes.  Research shows that Millennials are interested in greater flexibility and freedom.  Let them be disruptors and challenge conventional wisdom.  They will bring a freshness and renewal (scary for some of us).  Provide opportunities for them to step into bigger roles, possibly fail, and mentor them without using the phrase “back in my day.”  Engage them in conversation. Invest in their growth.  Support their ideas and interests.  They will be the future industry leaders.

In the fierce battle for recruiting and retaining team members, the ability to pivot, change, adjust, grow, and adapt to different styles will be a huge differentiator.  This is engagement, communications, and demographic realities.  And if your company can’t or won’t see that perspective, I am reminded of the 6 most expensive words “we’ve always done it that way.” 

Regardless of the generation you are in, paraphrasing Rachel Maddow, let me know what I got wrong.

As always, you can reach me at

Michael Riegel


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