DOROTHY GARLOUGH, RDH, MPA, is an innovation architect, facilitating strategy sessions
and forums to orchestrate change in both the
dental and corporate worlds. As an international speaker and writer, Dorothy trains others
to broaden their skill-set to include creativity,
collaborative innovation and forward thinking.
She recognizes that engagement is the outcome when the mechanisms are put in place
to drive new innovations. Connect with her at
She boasts proudly that she has never missed a day of work
in 10 years. Every day, she has been at the office preparing
for her patients, proving her loyalty and dedication — rain or
shine. She always shows up, even when she isn’t feeling her
best. Today is different. Like a dying handpiece, her RPMs
are fading. She feels lousy, but she knows that there are no
openings in the hygiene schedule for six months, and the office is depending on her. So, she puts her best foot forward.
As a “professional,” she takes a decongestant, and then she
dons a mask, gloves, and glasses to begin her workday.
Before long, the mask begins to fill with mucus from her
runny nose. She is sure that she is drowning, and it is getting hard to see. Her safety glasses are fogged, and her mask
is wet and hot from her mouth breathing. She is lethargic
and aching everywhere. Her goal is to make it to lunchtime.
There is nothing that a nap (and another decongestant)
won’t cure. As she enters the stericenter after her first patient of the day, sweat is pooling at her temples.
That’s when the office manager noticed me in my misery
and sent me home!
Years later, I reflect on what I was thinking by being
at the office when I should have been in bed. If I had been
thinking rationally, I would have known that the meager
barriers I donned that day were no match for the vicious
and virulent bug to which my health was succumbing. Instead, I was thinking of the team. I didn’t want to let everyone down. Where could they reschedule fourteen patients
without an opening for six months? The team needed me,
and I was a loyal member of the team.
It was an aha moment when I realized that I was behav-ing exactly like a baby boomer. Those of us who were born
between 1946 and 1964 value the team above all else. To ensure that the whole team was on board, we had meetings.
Boy, did we have meetings! Earlier in my career, it was not
unusual for a dental office to hold a 15-minute meeting every morning, a two-hour staff meeting every week, and a
half-day staff meeting twice a year. Obviously, baby boomers also like to talk!
This realization of my being “one of them” stimulated the
following questions: What other foibles or traits might my
generation and the other three generations1 in the workplace
have? How can understanding our differences and promot-
ing our strengths help us create an office environment of
growth, synergy, and fulfillment for the entire team? How
can we navigate the intersection of the four generations in
order to tap into the creative potential that is inherent in a
workplace with so much diversity?
We are all influenced by the era in which we live, and the
era has a direct impact on how we think and what we do.
A woman’s life in the 1800s looked similar to her mother’s
life. Today, we have a multitude of choices and opportunities, and our daughters’ and mothers’ lives may look entirely
different from our own. Not only do our lives look different, but also, the environment in which we live is different.
Technology and the speed of its development create a new
landscape every 20 years; that is, technological development
instigates the formation of new generations by influencing
the eras in which people grow up. As technological development speeds up, the formation of generational gaps speed
up, as well. Only those who remain flexible and open to the
wealth of opportunities will flourish.
Generational differences are displayed in our values, attitudes, and ways of thinking and doing. As humans, however, we often resist new ideas because they require us to
change, and change is difficult. 2 When our values, attitudes,
continued on pg. 98
B Y DOROTHY GARLOUGH, RDH, MPA
1. How many generations are presently working in
2. What is an uppermost value of Baby Boomers?
3. What is causing the speeding up of the
4. How many years does it currently take for
technological development to instigate the
beginning of a new generation?
5. What is one benefit when multiple generations
participate in the creative process?
1.Four 2.Team 3.Technology 4.Twentyyears 5.Diversity