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How The Intern Explores a Hidden Diversity Challenge

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Thu Oct 15 2015

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How The Intern Explores a Hidden Diversity Challenge-08ef4b83ee4178b9000e7d3c91a7de0b21d3929415555fa860d371ceecb8d91b

Most of the discussions surrounding diversity seem to focus on gender and race. However, one of the largest diversity challenges in today’s workforce hasn’t been talked about much at all until recently. The new film The Intern addresses the underlying issues around age diversity, revealing that many of us have forgotten that we can learn valuable information from our elders. 

In the movie, a 70-year-old man (played by Robert De Niro) goes to work in a Millennial-filled e-commence business, run by a young CEO (Anne Hathaway). Surely this youthful, driven CEO has nothing to learn from a work “dinosaur,” right? Not surprisingly, Hathaway discovers she can learn significant lessons from De Niro’s character—and we can, too. 

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Learn to Delegate 

Whoever first said “if you want a job done well, do it yourself” was likely someone who couldn’t delegate. No one can do everything. In fact, pretending that you can handle it all is a sign of delusion, not strength. Delegating is one of the hardest skills a manager must learn to be successful. Without this capability, you end up overloading yourself, which will reduce your effectiveness. With this skill, you spread the load, motivate your team, and increase the effectiveness of the whole organization. 

Everyone Needs Mentors 

No one has ever become successful without a mentor. Unlike coaches, who run up and down the sideline shouting instructions to you, mentors help you train yourself to become more effective. In The Intern, De Niro’s character doesn’t necessarily give Hathaway advice, but he is constantly asking her questions. He helps reinforce what she knows, enabling her to trust her instincts. 

Learn the Difference Between Urgent and Important 

In the movie, Hathaway’s character is constantly moving, cycling up and down the office on her bike, but she’s missing what’s going on with her overstretched colleagues and family. She is caught up in the everyday emergencies and cannot focus on what is truly important. One of the best ways to manage an urgent matter is to have the best team around you to help. That requires good hiring and great delegation. 

Face-to-Face Interactions Are Still Necessary 
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 While a decentralized workplace has many positives—working remotely offers people more flexibility, for example—sometimes an email or a phone call will not suffice. In the film, De Niro explains to a Millennial that if he wants “the girl,” he may actually have to talk to her. While the newest generation of workers has many skills, their biggest weakness may be the desire to substitute technology for essential human interaction.

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