It occurred to me, as I was watching three days of recorded nightly news, that we are in the most exciting time of history! Annoying of course, but exciting. For those of you who want to tangle and fight over politics–please don’t read any further. This is about The Digital Divide of Generations, and I am using politics to illustrate a point.
Let’s start with the obvious:
Bernie Sanders is bringing to a head the reality of the digital divide. His lifetime of actions — worn on his very transparent career sleeve– is one big Millennial Hug! Bernie is old with a young heart filled with passion for doing the “right thing.” If you accept that it is “his” right thing, then his record–illustrated so nicely in 25 + years of videos, is not the norm. He took his punches all these years holding his ground and fighting for his values. No one paid much attention to him until America lost its footing.
As for the rest of candidates, we have a series of complex maneuvers. A whole generation of “adults” who are more than willing to forgive and forget all the changes of opinion and irrelevance that our elected officials spew on Twitter and their favorite news outlet. Today they may support the “Hispanic” audience and tomorrow they may just throw them back over the border despite years of living here and paying taxes. Political “positions” mean nothing!
I think the most telling example of the generational divide in this election was a comment by woman, a baby boomer from Wisconson, who was asked about a statement that Donald Trump made and she said:
“I can’t believe he would punish women….but oh, I wish I could put a piece of tape on his mouth sometimes…”
Saying what you mean. Doing what you say. Walking the walk.
Companies and leaders of those companies must do what they say in their mission statement and employee handbooks. The idea that subordinates or the public for that matter, are on a need to know basis, with mostly the companies and leaders, never feeling that we “need to know,”–well hang on to your hats cause that just isn’t gonna work that much longer. Millennials want transparency. We all want transparency!
We want companies to speak the truth and then back with action. Things marked “organic” should be, water tested by government agencies must be accurate and disclosed, and when people lie or change their minds we cannot merely put tape on their mouths to resolve the problem.
From Boomer To Bust
Older generations “forget” or have just accepted that our government officials do not do what they say Election after election, we have overlooked the failings of our elected leaders to do what they say and now we have roads that are collapsing, water that is hurting children, gas leaks destroying entire neighborhoods, and an election that has spotlighted a cancer that needs to be removed. Saying “you are the best” is not the same as being “the best.”
Old School Vs New School
In my line of work, I am oftentimes seen as a disrupter. I recently sat in a room of high-level professionals facilitating a discussion about the opportunity to connect with their community –making them advocates for their important and incredibly stressful line of work. I, of course, brought up using social media to help. Still reeling from the crash of 2008–like so many businesses and professionals–with reduced budgets that didn’t get refilled when things began to turn around, they felt burdened by their inability to reach the decision makers. Why is that? I wanted to say to them. Why do you think the budgets remain slim?
The battle is not about money. The battle is about value, vision, and purpose. Years of “need to know” pulled the cord in ’08. Managers were managing managers and nothing was getting done. CEO’s and Politicians were changing strategy and cutting budgets without regard to the original goals.
And I asked one telling question that I ask in every group, every industry I speak with: When was the last time you went down through your company/department and met with your staff and talked about the mission and purpose of your work? Deer in headlights for half the room.
When did our “work” become so important that we forgot to communicate and support our “subordinates”? In this case, they are called “direct reports,” a term that just cut into my soul –as if they were numbered prisoners.
Innovation cannot work if we do not communicate at the very basic level of our most valued assets–the people who work with our customers.
I know that I am disruptive–a role I have come to accept. I live on both sides of this generational/digital divide. I climbed the ladder but I failed miserably because climbing to the very top didn’t mean I was successful. I read our mission statements and took it to heart that we had a purpose. Eventually, I had to go out on my own because at a “certain age” people just expect that you want to climb up the next rung on the ladder. I was too busy circling the desks and inspiring the masses.
The Election Is a Mirror
Holding on to what we had has always been the job of the outgoing generation. They feel “owed” and justified in moving on, hanging on and complaining about the young guns without experience. But this time the young guns don’t really need what is being offered because they have redefined success. They don’t want to climb ladders to nowhere, they want collaborative teams with goals and support for their efforts.
I remember telling my sales team that the “big bosses” were busy solving the big problems, and that is why they didn’t once attend our customer events—but who were we kidding? They were busy holding on to their rung on the ladder.
Using Social Media to connect is scary because it means you have to declare something and then hold true to it.
My favorite question as a consultant is “Why do Millennials leave a new job after a few months?”
It’s not an answer most businesses want to hear. Bosses want it to be about the “Me Generation” with self-centered kids who don’t know how to do anything without their cell phones. But that is not true. Millennials have not only figured out that they are a numbered and expendable commodity in the workplace, but they feel empowered to leave before they turn into the huddled and afraid “direct reports” like their parents were before they got laid off after years of loyal service.
So Donald, Ted, Hilary, and Bernie…
…you are at the tipping point in history when it comes to elections, and most likely, our culture too. This will be the last presidential election where you say whatever you must to get into the office and then back pedal your way into the next election. We want change. We want communication and support. We want you to speak your mind…and hopefully, what comes out of your mouth will be a passion , purpose and real plan of action to make our country stronger…without the use of tape!
Maria Bereket is a Marketing & Social Media Consultant. Her work is focused on bridging the gap in the digital divide, and her passion is working with small business owners because she feels that their work is going to change the world making it a better place to live. E @mbear88 or email me if you need a different perspective firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted on LinkedIn