Sunday, November 1, 2009

Working With Those Young Folks

I invite you to look at the new photo on my blog. I'm interviewing Katy Brown during Market Days, the founder of the Concord Arts Market. She's young, vibrant, creative, and bringing new and exciting things to our community. I felt like this could have been an interview with me 30 plus years ago. I was both envious of her accomplishment at such a young age, but pleased that a younger generation was on the move and making good things happen in my city.

It made me think a lot of when I was the youngest person in the office. As I recall, it felt great, but a bit daunting at the same time. I also remember how easy it was for us "young folks" to be critical of the seniors in the company and question why they did things the way they did. But as the months and years went by, it became clear to me that they really knew what they were talking about after all and I should trust their judgement.

I've discovered that things are different today however. To begin with, it's the first time that five generations of employees make up the work force in America. That's because retirees are now working longer, whether it be by choice or need. Second, it's a work place immersed in technology. This is where senior workers often feel insecure. Does this mean that the work of our more mature and experienced workers is devalued? I sincerely hope not.

If I were once again the youngest worker in the office today, knowing what I know now, I'd like to think that I would value my older co-workers for the life experience that they bring to the table that I have yet to understand. And I would respect them for their hard work and contributions to my company and my community.

After having managed employees most of my life, I now work for and with people in their 20's. Both my managers at WKXL and Concord TV are accomplished professionals already. Yes, I am more than twice their age, and that of many of my co-workers, but they keep me young and cool and connected to technology much more than if I were on my own, having to try it without them. I'm learning media production, video and editing, social networking, and more, and embracing it with gusto. They make me laugh every day and in this environment, I am 20 something again.

Do you know what I've discovered? It's that we can all learn from each other if we are open to doing so with an open mind and heart. I'm sure I have earned their respect. I know they have earned mine!

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