“I like music remixes because they celebrate the fact that I’ve been around for a while and they make me feel current. They offer a memory and a discovery.” Lindsey Pollak
In my search for resources to develop the content for a retreat entitled “Workplace for Every Generation,” I found a book worth sharing. Lindsey Pollack’s new book takes its premise from the musical concept of a remix. As she puts it, “In music, of course, a remix is a song, usually a well-known classic, that has been changed from its original state by a new artist who adds, takes away, or alters the original in some way to create something both recognizable and entirely new.”
Similarly, “In business, the remix is a positive approach to organizational change that takes practices or habits embraced by a previous generation… and adds to, removes from, or alters them in some way to better appeal to (other generations) so we can all succeed together.”
She goes on to say, “Importantly, a remix does not erase the past. Rather, in a workplace context, it involves examining the ‘classic’ fundamentals – from management to workspaces to benefits, to communication to compensation – and questioning”. She lists three times of questions – what do we need to stop doing, what should we continue to do, what do we need to start doing?
Pollak begins by describing the five generations now in the workplace – or the seven generations if you add in the micro generations. Here are her “commonly cited characteristics” of each generation and descriptors I particularly liked.
- Traditionalists (1928-1945) – loyal, cautious, formal, proud
- “want to be respected for their experience and knowledge and not discounted because of their age.”
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – self-focused, competitive, optimistic, ‘forever young’ mentality
- “first television generation,” “strongly associated with the dramatic social changes of the 1960s.”
- Micro-Generation Jones (1955-1965) – adaptable, balance of idealism and cynicism, openness to change
- “Too young for Woodstock, too old for mosh pits.”
- Generation X (1965-1980) – independent, cautious, skeptical, tech pioneers
- the largest population in the workforce “for about fifteen minutes.”
- Micro-Generation Xenniels (1977-1985) – adaptable, balance of optimism and pessimism
- “Oregon Trail generation,” “use social media, but remember life without it.”
- Millennials (Generation Y) (1981-1996) – self-expressive, group-oriented, purpose-driven, global, tech-dependent
- “significantly more diverse than the generations that preceded them.”
- Generation Z (1997–) – cautious, technologically advanced, diverse
- “most diverse generation in American history with 48 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.”
Rules for Remixers
There is much to like in this book. It covers topics ranging from the changes in our expectations about work or time in a job to the role of leadership in a multi-generational workplace. She addresses communication, training, and mentoring as well as culture and our changing ideas about our work environment. Pollak ends the book with stories of individuals who found ways to keep the old and add the new in their own careers, each of which is interesting in its own way. What I particularly appreciated was early in the book – the Rules for Remixers. Eight simple rules for working across generations. While written specifically for cross-generational interactions, they are useful concepts for a variety of different interpersonal engagements.
If you are facing challenges leading organizations with multiple generations, if you want to understand more about your colleagues from other generations or experiences, or if you are simply interested in the topic, I recommend The Remix.