Gen Xers are moving into corner offices. Boomers are seeking ‘encore careers’ to extend their work life beyond retirement. Millennials are struggling to capture their career mojo in a still dismal job market. Meanwhile, yet another generation – fiscally conservative and resource conscious – readies to enter the business world. Some call the “generation gap” a crisis, but Tammy Erickson sees it much differently and urges us to embrace the diversity as an opportunity to take a harder look at ourselves.
A global authority on the changing nature of work, Erickson has dedicated decades to researching and understanding workplace shifts, including generational perspectives. And as age becomes less of a rigid dividing line (knowledge trumps seniority), and organizations strive to be more collaborative and less siloed, her findings are increasingly relevant. It’s essential that we understand – and value – what each person brings to the table.
Many of our most powerful and lasting beliefs, Erickson says, are formed as teenagers, when we first shift our focus from tangible objects, and begin to wrestle with the principles of and ideas in the world around us. What we see and hear – and the conclusions we draw – influence for our lifetimes what we value, how we measure success, whom we trust, and the priorities we set for our own lives, including the role work plays within it. This empathetic message helps audiences understand generational differences and other forms of diversity as logical consequences, rather than frustrating or contrarian behaviors.
A highly regarded speaker, Erickson’s presentation is masterful, filled with humor and energy, touching listeners of all ages deeply, and often moving audiences to tears as they adjust the lens that frames how they see themselves and others around them. Just as it is important for senior-most business executives to consider how diversity will reshape the organizations they lead, the implications of Erickson’s work resonates with broad audiences who quickly recognize the values that foster respect and enhance communication among generations – at work and in life.
Erickson, who has already written a popular trilogy of books, including “Retire Retirement” (for Boomers), “What’s Next, Gen X?” and “Plugged In” (for Gen Y), brings an extraordinary depth of insight to explain why Boomers are naturally inclined to be driven and competitive, Gen Xers to be self-reliant and option-oriented, and Millennials fiercely determined to live each day to the fullest. She is actively researching and writing on the Re-Generation (those 18 and younger today), new work entrants who will be markedly different – much less interested in acquiring and more so in sharing capital goods as they come of age in a world of constrained resources and finite limits.