In January I learned that I would be partnering with our new intern-turned-employee, Desiree, to support some social media programs. In our first conference call it took me about 12 minutes to discover that my new partner in crime was going to “out-digital” me in just about every subsequent conversation. I felt something sting; it was my wounded pride. I have been managing social media programs for years, and it stung that she knew more about the latest digital tools and tactics than I did.

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That evening, alone with my thoughts, I decided I had no other choice than to soak up any new knowledge I could, even though my pride was still smarting. I conceded her ideas were pretty interesting; perhaps we’d have some really fun opportunities ahead.

The next day I dialed in for our second conference call. With about a half dozen attendees, it was a lively call with lots of ideas being bandied about, and lots of process and workflow issues to resolve. I was pretty surprised when Desiree followed up privately with me and expressed admiration for my knowledge of the “inner workings” of the organization. Huh, I thought, maybe I’m not as worthless as I felt last night!

And then it hit me – picture the proverbial light bulb. What a powerful team we could be as Desiree keeps us updated on all the latest in digital-land, and I shepherd the projects through my internal network of peers – a network I’ve been building for years!

I went from embarrassed to energized in less than a day, but I suspect my transformation was quicker than most. While I’d love to flatter myself and say my quick turnaround was due to my magnanimous nature, the truth is that I was already working with social media, so new tactics and platforms weren’t completely foreign concepts to me.

Plus, one of Desiree’s great ideas was for us to co-manage a blog about mixing Millennials and Gen Xers in the work place. While I’ve been working with blog platforms and bloggers for years, I’ve only authored a few posts, so admittedly I was initially apprehensive. However, since I committed to being more open to new ideas (and I really did like the concept of “a Millennial and a Gen Xer walk into the conference room”), here I am writing my first piece for the XM Files!

Now, enough about me. What do you think? Do most Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have a hard time accepting digital natives into their work groups? Do Millennials feel overwhelmed or unappreciated by Gen Xers who have a firmer grasp of the inner workings of the organization? What do you think is the most effective way to build a truly collaborative intra-generational team?

This post originally appeared on The XM Files.

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2 Comments

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  1. Debra Curtis-Magley

    Great post Carolyn! You’ve poised some interesting questions. As you discovered, I think it’s all about attitude. Like you, I’m a GenXer who has worked in social media for years and journeyed through many interesting experiences. But I also realize that no matter how much I may “know,” things change quickly in this space and it’s not feasible to be an expert in all things related to social media.

    My goal is to remain unrelentingly curious, to recognize and embrace the skills and talents that others contribute, and to pursue a path of collaboration where everyone can contribute their best to serve our customers and our business.

    I’ll be interested to read what others have to say on this topic.

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    1. Carolyn Brock Post author

      I like your goal, Debra. Curiosity is key to continued growth, especially when we can “check our egos at the door” and take the time to learn from others’ skills and talents.

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