Our Thinking

Generation Gap

Look around: who are the Social Media go-to people in your office?  Look around again, and identify the people with the strongest business acumen.  In almost all organizations, the first group is younger, with-it hipsters, while the second group is typically much older.  Getting these groups on the same Social Media strategy page  can be challenging at best: the knowledge gap is too wide.

Two questions:  Must this always be so? (no)  And is there something that can be done close the gap?  (yes)

For an organization to fully take advantage of the opportunity of the social web, the strength of both generations must be harnessed. Here are a few ways to intentionally close the gap:

  • Start with a Social Media plan:  The act of putting one together results in significant knowledge transfer between the two groups.  Once complete, the plan can guide both the younger person’s priorities, and the older person’s expectations.
  • Training:  A casualty of tough economic times has been the investment being made in people.  Investing in business training for younger employees means better decision-making.  Social Media training for more senior employees means better questions – and better management.
  • Reverse Mentoring:  So often, mentoring relationships go in one direction:  from senior to junior.  For the first time in many years, younger employees can switch it up, adding value (through Social Media knowledge) back to their older colleagues.
  • Connect with experience:  Sometimes an outsider can bring a new perspective – and a common vocabulary – to an organization.  Whether it be in an internal group setting, or listening to a speaker at an outside conference, learning together helps build shared organizational knowledge.

This week’s action plan:  The most successful people realize that everyone is a teacher, regardless of role or level of experience.  This week, consider your gaps, whether it be in Social Media or some other area, and find yourself a mentor.  Before you do this though, look for someone you can help first.

This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.