I tuned in on Tuesday to the intergenerational workshop headlined by Energy Department researchers Sean Clayton and Jeffrey Vargas. (Alyssa Rosenberg and I highlighted their work in the July 2008 cover story of Government Executive). The researchers noted that by 2013, members of Generation Y (aged 18-29) will represent 40 percent of the nation's workforce. As the government moves toward this shift, they said, younger workers should capitalize on their technological expertise. "Technology is your entry card," Vargas said. "It's the way you're going to get managers to listen to you and welcome you as part of the team."
The key, however, is knowing and understanding the experience, expertise and preferences of each generation, and leveraging those skills to accomplish common goals, Clayton and Vargas noted.
I was thinking about this as I was reading a blog post by Mark Drapeau on Cheeky Fresh about the important skills of the Greatest Generation - the oldest generation in the workforce. These workers lived through World War II and the early days of the Cold War, when there was less bureaucracy and things like getting a government job took much less time. Bringing change to the government not only involves looking forward and leveraging technology, it also involves simply getting back to basics and looking to the experiences and expertise of the government's most senior workers. "I think that if a lot of government leaders and managers took some time out from their day-to-day work and listened to and conversed with these veterans, everyone would learn a lot," Drapeau writes. "And we may get some fresh old ideas about how to make Government 2.0 happen with some urgency."