I recently worked with an association that had a board comprised primarily of “boomer” directors. Recognizing the importance to diversify the board, they actively recruited younger board members. Unfortunately, when push gave to shove, these newcomers were not given leadership opportunities and the board continued to function as it had before. In turn, the younger directors became disenchanted with both the board and worse, the association.
Each generation brings unique strengths and qualities that an association can take advantage of to achieve strategic initiatives and ensure sustainability. The younger generation will lead the future; the older generation provides a historic perspective and experience. Instead of focusing on bridging generation gaps; think of it more as an alignment.
These are suggestions from our experience, on how to work with multi-generational volunteers, members and staff:
- Allow both boomers and millennials to manage programming for their own cohorts
- Older team members must delegate meaningful authority to younger colleagues
- Ensure both groups are focused on the same goals and governed by some policies, but let them both choose “how”
- Track each group’s progress against objectives
While each generation has different needs, values, attitudes, perspectives and styles, it is smart practice to have young and older people work together. Collectively – they are an unstoppable team.
Remember that the first step in member engagement is articulating and communicating your member value proposition (MVP). It may be different for each of your boomer and millennial cohorts.