Mr. DeLangie also scheduled a communication meeting to discuss
interaction styles early in the project’s life cycle. And when team members’
preferences for phone, email or in-person communication caused friction
on a team, Mr. DeLangie began mapping out scenario-specific guidelines.
An issue that required an immediate response called for in-person interaction; if action was needed within the hour, an instant message would suffice; non-urgent matters could be hashed out via email.
“It sounds like overkill, but it wasn’t,” he says. “If you have a team
member just sitting there, wondering why someone’s ignoring an email
or fuming that someone never picks up the phone, the team environ-
ment can get toxic.”
but a Number
MYTH: Younger workers resent being told
what to do.
FACT: 41 percent of workers younger than 32
years old agree with the statement, “Employees
should do what their manager tells them, even when
they can’t see the reason for it,” versus 30 percent of
Source: Center for Creative Leadership
MYTH: Team members in their 50s and 60s are
FACT: A study of 35,000 workers found that
employees over 50 were more motivated to exceed
expectations on the job than younger workers.
Source: Towers Perrin
M YTH: Older workers are resistant to technology.
FACT: A 2011 study found that older employees
reacted more positively to learning new IT initiatives
than their younger counterparts.
Source: Age and Technology Innovation in the Workplace: Does Work
Context Matter?, Tracey Rizzuto
MYTH: Work-life balance is only important to
team members with young families.
FACT: 75 percent of workers age 45 and
up consider flexible hours a “prime quality” of
the ideal workplace.
MYTH: Younger workers are obsessed
with high salaries.
FACT: A survey of 5,000 people between
the ages of 22 to 80 found no correlation
between a person’s age and whether he or she
is motivated by extrinsic factors, such as hefty
salaries and better perks.
Source: Center for Creative Leadership
MYTH: Older workers take more days off
than younger ones.
FACT: Older workers use less sick time
for short-term illnesses, which means they’re
absent fewer days annually than their younger
Source: Wharton School of Business
A Hunger for Harmony
Martin D’Imperio, PMP, oversees a 20-person team in his role as facilities project leader for Pan American Energy, Comodoro, Argentina.
And though team members’ ages range from 24 to 56, he’s found a
common denominator: a love for food.
To bring the team together, he hosts group meals six or seven times
a year. These outside-the-office gatherings can improve collaboration, as
was the case when two team members who didn’t see eye-to-eye found
common ground when working together on a casual craft project.
“It helped them meet the human side of each other,” says Mr.
D’Imperio. “To be away from day-to-day activities facilitates con-
nections that are hard to make when you’re working under pressure.
Afterward, I saw a real turn in their relationship.”
Generational rifts, he says, stem mainly from diverging work
views: “The older employees see their jobs as a place to grow, and the
younger ones see their jobs as a means to grow,” he says. “When a
younger person feels he or
she has reached a roof in the
company, finding other com-
panies that offer new chal-
lenges or growing possibilities
is probably not far behind.
Older people can interpret
that as not having a sense of
Case in point: One of
Mr. D’Imperio’s older team
members felt that a younger
team member wasn’t show-
ing enthusiasm about his job.
Instead of talking to his coun-
terpart, the senior employee
approached the project man-
ager about moving him to
“He felt that not being
fully invested in the job was
breaking the so-called ‘code’
“The older employees
see their jobs as a
place to grow, and
the younger ones see
their jobs as a means
—Martin D’Imperio, PMP, Pan American
Energy, Comodoro, Argentina