In addition to what I have learned about personality types in the workplace, which I shared here last week, I’ve also been exposed to a fair amount of data on the various generations and how they have affected life at work.
According to what I have read and been taught, we can thank the millennials for taking us from casual Fridays to casual every day (and I do thank them for that, although I think every man should know how to tie a tie), flexible hours and remote working.
Not to mention generous maternity and paternity leave policies. I don’t know that six weeks of my being at home when my children were born would have been beneficial to anyone, and I suspect today’s new dads might be parlaying that into a golf or fishing outing or two, but hey, I would not have complained.
In the same recent seminar where I continued learning about the personality types, I also heard a little about the generation coming behind the millennials, “Gen Z,” a group that has never known life without a cell phone and has never had the experience of having film developed.
In other words, they are not accustomed to having to wait for much of anything. Overnight, next-day or, at the very most, second-day shipping is as much a part of their lives as online banking and the instant answers they get from Google.
It will be interesting to see how we begin to assimilate these folks into the workplace. I am probably considered old-fashioned in saying this, but I believe we older workers have a responsibility to teach them patience and that not everything happens immediately. We’ll talk about that another day.
My one-year-old grandsons will be part of yet another generation, I suppose, with yet another name, and it is hard for me to imagine what it might look like as they hit their respective strides and eventually become contributors to the workforce.
But believe me, I am not hurrying them. Even though I can’t stop the advancement of time and progress, I can, in my small way, help them enjoy being little boys and the timeless components of the wonderful and fleeting part of life they are in.
Yes, each of them can already hold a smartphone in his hand, and they both have a fascination with remote controls, but there are other less-modern objects and activities that keep them equally engaged.
One of those is the red wagon. While visiting my grandson Hank and his parents in Atlanta last year, I spotted this remnant from raising my own children, and from my own childhood for that matter, in their garage.
I was holding Hank at the time, he having just turned a year old but not walking around much yet. He looked at me and pulled on my shirt, then pointed at the wagon. His message came through loud and clear.
While the wagons of old were a type of aluminum, this one was sturdy plastic and I must say it’s an improvement. It also had two seats facing each other. I strapped Hank into one of them and we were off.
Hank is a pretty chill dude, in that he generally doesn’t scream with glee, but it’s very easy to tell when he’s happy. There’s a look of satisfaction in his big brown eyes when he is in that wagon, with his mouth set in a state just short of a perpetual grin. Over the couple of days I was there, I had to have pulled him at least a few miles.
When I was back home, I ordered an identical wagon to have at our house. Having two grandsons close to each other in age, I could picture them sitting in it facing each other.
And I have not been disappointed. Whether it’s either or both of them, a visit to GrandBob’s and SuSu’s house now always includes a wagon ride, and while Hank’s joy in riding is placid, my other grandson, Cap, shows his delight more outwardly. He does in fact scream with glee and jabbers all through the rides. He also bends over the sides and watches the wheels go around.
And when the two of them ride together (which is more fun than I can adequately describe), Cap happily screams while Hank grins.
The only negative part of the ride is when it ends, which might cause some long faces, with GrandBob resorting to various forms of bribery (like handing them remote controls – don’t judge me) to coax them out.
When we’re in the house and I want to suggest a ride, I have to spell it out to the other adults (although I think both boys are catching on to W-A-G-O-N), just in case it does not immediately come to pass.
As I said, it’s hard to imagine these little guys growing up and each taking his place in the world, becoming part of whatever their generation will be called.
But I’ll not concern myself with that now. I’ll keep them firmly entrenched in “Gen W” – for wagon, of course – as long as I can.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.