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  • Writer's pictureFrederike Harms

Harnessing the Power of Intergenerational Approaches in Management Consulting

Only two weeks ago, I was gazing at the many cookbooks on my kitchen shelf as I was waiting for an espresso to drip into a cup, when I spotted a folder that was somewhat jammed between two big editions collecting dust.


I love an opportunity to declutter, so I pulled it out to look through and likely dispose of it, when I spotted the familiar slant of my late grandma’s handwriting poking out from between various magazine clippings and recipe cards I must have chucked in over years.


What I found was a recipe for elderberry soup with sweet dumplings, an absolute childhood favourite of mine, written as a story and addressed to me specifically. My grandma told me in detail where I would find the elderberries, what to look out for and how my dad would like it best.


I was lucky enough to grow up in the same house as my grandparents. It was multi-generational and multi-purpose as it was our home as well as our business. Our employees of various ages were part of the family, by the simple fact of them living and eating with us. Of course, growing up in the country, this was nothing special at the time. It’s only now, when I look back and reflect to compare my upbringing to that of my daughter who not only doesn’t live in the same house as her grandparents, but in a different country, that I appreciate how special a setting it was.


In the fast-paced world of management consulting, where I spend a good chunk of my waking hours these days, where clients span across various sectors, it's crucial to recognise the value of diverse experiences and foster meaningful interactions that transcend age boundaries.


I know that by embracing an Intergenerational Approach, businesses can unlock the potential for more inclusive and cohesive communities within their workforce, ultimately leading to higher levels of empathy and understanding among team members, as they learn to appreciate the unique perspectives and experiences that each generation brings to the table. This, in turn, leads to more resilient businesses and individuals who are better equipped to navigate the challenges of an ever-changing landscape. As a Change Management Consultant, I see this first-hand time and time again.


Moreover, when diverse age groups collaborate and share ideas, the result is often more creative solutions to complex problems. By leveraging the collective wisdom and fresh perspectives of multiple generations, organisations can tap into a wealth of knowledge and innovation that may otherwise remain untapped.


However, implementing an Intergenerational Approach in business is not without its challenges. One of the primary obstacles is the lack of time and resources allocated to wellbeing and informal experiences at work. As workloads increase and employee numbers decrease, there is often an expectation for individuals to lead extracurricular activities on top of their day-to-day responsibilities. This can make it difficult to prioritise initiatives that foster intergenerational connections and collaboration outside of more formal mentoring programs which are mainly aimed at professional development.


To overcome these challenges, it's crucial for leaders to advocate for the importance of Intergenerational Approaches within their organisations. By highlighting the tangible benefits and long-term value of investing in such initiatives, businesses can translate the potential return on investment in more tangible terms of increased employee engagement, productivity, and innovation.


In conclusion, while formal Intergenerational Approach initiatives may not be commonplace in businesses today, their principles can still be applied to drive positive change and create more inclusive and cohesive communities.

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