Coachology: Building bridges at work

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After a week of posts about generational conflict, you’ll be happy to hear that Alexandra Levit is a professional bridge builder (and blogger at Water Cooler Wisdom). Leaders in the Fortune 500 call her when they can’t cope with young people anymore. She teaches people how to stop annoying each other by gaining a better understanding of generational differences.

Deloitte has a program that offers free, confidential career counseling to all employees. The counselors can talk on any topic (including how to get out of Deloitte). So I asked, “What do the older employees talk to a coach about?” And program founder Stan Smith, told me, “A lot of them use the career coach to ask what do I do about these kids?”

It’s clear this cuts both ways, too. Generation Y is not an insolent bunch. They have been treated well by older people their whole lives. They follow rules, and respect their parents. Young people are looking for ways to work well with management — ways that won’t crush their dreams.

On an individual basis this comes down to problem solving and negotiation. Working with someone is actually a series of hundreds of small negotiations. If you do them well, things go smoothly and all issues are small. If you mishandle negotiations, problems grow, and road blocks pop up.

What Alexandra can do is help you troubleshoot problem areas in your work life that are a result of generational differences. It’s a skill to learn, and you can use it over and over again. You can also use Alexandra to blow off steam. Deloitte finds that you will do better work if you have a person like this in your life as a sounding board.

This week you can get 90 minutes free with Alexandra. You’ll probably use it in 30 minute increments. Most of you can benefit from this. A place like Deloitte doesn’t offer free coaching willy-nilly. They offer it because the idea of handling everything yourself is outdated; having someone to go to for a problem drastically improves your ability to succeed at work.

If you are having generational problems at work, send an email to me with three sentences about why you want to work with Alexandra, and she’ll pick one of you to work with. Deadline is Sunday, July 15.

7 replies
  1. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    What an interesting idea. I think that efforts like these will help the conversation between generations tremendously. I think that open dialog in the workplace is a great start, too. We talk about generational differences at work a lot. Maybe that’s because I work in communications in the employment industry. So we communicate about work with each other, since that’s our area of expertise. But I find that it helps me understand my Xer boss and co-worker when we just talk about the different ways we view things – in generational context. So for some people, hopefully that is an option, too.

  2. T.C. Coleman
    T.C. Coleman says:

    Great post! It is fantastic to continuously see professional service firms recognize the powerful impact of coaching. Kudos to Deloitte for embracing coaching and being a leader for the professional service firm!

    T.C.Coleman, Business and Career Coach

  3. Trina Roach
    Trina Roach says:

    What a powerful strategy!

    Just last week the Germany’s premiere business weekly – Wirtschaftswoche – ran its 2nd bannered article on the coaching profession. This time the magazine went a step farther than just writing about the benefits of coaching. It offeres 20 free coaching programs – at a value of about 7200 Euro (almost $10,000) apiece! – in conjunction with the Dale Carnegie Institute here.

    Dale Carnegie has obviously discovered the still untapped potential for career coaching in Germany, because this is already the 2nd program of such scholarships that I have heard about. The first being a program specifically pinpointing women in business.

    All in all, I believe programs like this benefit the individual, the company – and the coaching industry as a whole! The more people (and companies) actually experience coaching as a serious and effective career tool, the easier it will be to attract (and keep) qualified and passionate coaches in the profession.

    Trina Roach
    Executive Coach

  4. Quasar9
    Quasar9 says:

    Hi Penelope, interesting blog
    Coachology thought it had something to do with buses (coaches) or horse & carriage tours
    Only kidding,thought it had something to do with american football …

    I think work development is definitely a boom industry in the EU (has been for the last ten years) and always has been at the higher end, but yeah its gone well beyond tennis.

    Now one can get coached in to how to organise one’s life – and ‘coaching’ on how to date. Well life is mostly fun and an entertaining pass time

  5. Daniel Dessinger
    Daniel Dessinger says:

    This post brings up some interesting thoughts. I’ve been involved in small interactive marketing agencies for the past few years. There’s obviously a generation gap between some management and the specialists.

    But in this industry, the management tries to think like GenY, because Web 2.0 is our business and the industry revolves (increasingly so) around GenY programmers, designers, developers, writers, and visionaries.

    I wonder how much the gap still affects our relationships, though. Though the owners and presidents may be able to somewhat speak the business language of GenY, social differences are still rather significant.

  6. Alpha Novem
    Alpha Novem says:

    I want to congratulate you! You are a amazing woman with such great ideas and a reasonable crieria life!

    Please check my blog. Is in spanish.

    I read before that your husband is from latinamerican heritage. Well I suposse you take also some spanish lessons.


  7. Alan
    Alan says:

    Great post. Coping up with young people isn’t what older people are supposed to do. It’s good that there’s someone ready to deal with that kind of situation.

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