May 1, 2015

Generational Shifts: Established Volunteers

My last three articles were well received, as they traveled across our Federation of home builder associations (HBA). Through my opinions, I focused on what our next generation is about, "expert" perception of what X & Y wants and what the baby boomer volunteer leaders will need to do in order to integrate youth into the graying fold. There was so much more information I wanted to deliver but I'm writing a blog article not a book so I needed to condense my thoughts to hit specific points that would foster continue dialogue. My thoughts, by the way, were developed by dozens of next generation members concerns and observations that, to a person, were in unison.
Based on emails and comments received, I was pleased to learn that the messages I delivered through theses articles were embraced by many members and HBA staff. There were a few, however, that challenged my points of view and I truly believe it was based on their focusing on one or two sentences that somehow were interpreted as proclaiming that I want the old guard to get out of the way.

Some points to consider;
  • The next generation's voice was the impetus for the articles. X and Y very much want to be a part of our association but they need to be heard.
  • When I first came into the association through today, I watched first hand at how the baby boomers were changing leadership within their own generation. As a tail end boomer in my late twenty's during the end of the 1980's, I watched as the then old guard was protecting their "turf." The old guard I'm referring to was at or close to the very age I am today!
  • I am not in favor of today's old guard, which absolutely includes me, stepping aside. The vast majority of our, and I'll change the description now, ESTABLISHED guard continues to passionately lead our association and they themselves are concerned about our future and the need for youth infusion.
 Our established guard does have some folks that will not come into the 21st century. The still "remember when" and are reluctant to change.

Some points on change?
  • Do not move to change for the sake of change. You might believe that this statement counters what I've been saying. It doesn't. I am not calling for a complete overhaul of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB and HBAs) and it's chief objective, advocacy for the industry. I am asking that we begin the process of bringing new thoughts into the conversation and possible initiatives.
  • The meaning of new thoughts can be interpreted many ways depending on the interpreter. My interpretation is simple; to not suffocate discussion. Myself and other established volunteers will sometimes be quick to dismiss a "new" thought as an "old" one because we talked about it once upon a time. The fact is, what might not have worked in 1995 may absolutely work in 2015 because of the business climate or technology. We, as the established, have to learn to let conversation evolve, listen to other thoughts that are experiencing volunteerism for the first time.
  • I have heard more than one established member say "if we only had this technology back then." well, you didn't. But you do now and it will be changed by tomorrow. That's where the new ideas, that were old ideas, truly become new versions that can now work based on today and beyond.
Our next generation is a lot like we were. We thought we had all the answers. How many times did we disagree with our parents because WE knew best? We had to learn on our own. We were immortal. We were the next generation.

If you could give your younger self advice, advice that you know would stick, what would it be? To the next generation, you are my younger self. My advice to you is very simple;
  • The established members come with wisdom. Unfortunately, wisdom truly comes through life experiences developed over time. You may think you know, but it's doubtful that you really do. 
  • Some things don't change and they shouldn't. Take phones for instance. They started out as smoke signals from Native Americans. Now we have smart phones that do everything imaginable. They still, however, deliver conversation. NAHB has changed in may ways since 1942 but the core reason has never wavered; building industry protection through advocacy. Never forget that during your NAHB volunteerism.
  • Look to the established members as mentors. Develop a relationship that will benefit each other. The "student is now the teacher" means you have found wealth in knowledge and understanding.
  • Do not look at an established members as some "old dude" at the end of the conference table. That "old dude" has the association's back until they themselves are on their back. That is passion that can't be taught, it has to be experienced.
Old dogs can learn the new "tricks" and they can still certainly bite.

Regards,
Mike

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael,
You are consistently "hitting the nail on the head" with your articles!

young and old, if working together, can produce great things for our association.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

Anonymous,
Thank you! I try :)