I barely squeaked into the definition of a Gen X-er (born before 1965 and 1981), and I like to look up the Bible passages for Sunday sermon’s on my Kindle, but I don’t have a smart phone and only send text messages when I absolutely have to. I’m an enigma to myself and surely to others just as much as they are to me, so Haydn Shaw’s book, Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart was funny, enlightening, and at times even eye-opening.
The book is essentially structured to help those in the business world who are encountering up to 4 generations in the work place at the same time: Traditionalists, Baby Booms, Gen X-ers, and Millenials. Shaw’s goal is to both explain the generations to each other (why we are the way we are) and explore the 12 issues that typically tear them apart while giving ideas on how to stick together instead. The topics he chooses to cover are right on in so many cases: dress codes, work ethic, free time, respect, meetings and more all are addressed as various conflict-causing topics.
Even though I don’t work in a business environment struggling with these issues, I can certainly see this generational give-and-take within a church setting. In my small group, the cell phones are right there on the table next to the Bibles and the ladies are pressing buttons and texting while I teach. How you dress when you attend church and how meetings are run, issues of respect and expectations of loyalty are all questions we’ve struggled to answer in a multi-generational congregation just as much as in a business or large company.
But the real takeaway from this book for me was the reminder that whenever we deal with these issues, we need to get our people to move beyond the “what” as soon as possible. Any time we’ve talked over these issues as a church congregation, we dwell on the “what” forever, explaining over and over our own perspective on why our way of doing things is okay, better, or even superior, than the ways of other generations or viewpoints. It instantly defines us into the categories of “us” and “them” and gives us all a platform for our own opinions, which we speak, but doesn’t really encourage us to listen to others. It’s essentially divisive.
And yet every time the generational issues arise, there we are taking sides again. Haydn Shaw says no matter how hard it is, no matter how often he has to redirect the discussion, he will try to teach people to stop talking about “what” and start asking “why,” encouraging people to listen to and understand each other, and then work together on a solution.
The best use of this book is to read it with a desire to understand and a willingness to change. If you pick up the book determined that your way is the best way, your generation is the best generation and all others are faulty, then it might not be that helpful to you. But if you’re open to listening and willing to put the good of your business or congregation over personal preference, then this book may be just the tool you’re looking for to help four generations work together instead of pull themselves apart.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”