We're teaming up with Rebecca Ryan, of Madison, Wis.-based Next Generation Consulting, to answer your questions about generational issues. Ryan answered her first question on Accountingtomorrow.com, which addressed whether it's OK to listen to iPods while at work:

Dear Rebecca: My managing shareholder is concerned about the number of staff using iPods while they are working. ... I shared with him that most of the staff has been watching TV, listening to music, etc., while doing other things, for most of their life. If we're having a performance issue, we can address that as a potential distraction, but for most, it shouldn't be a problem. Do you have any other thoughts that might help? - Tricia

Dear Tricia: Your feedback to your managing shareholder is spot on. Your managing shareholder has probably seen some of the research that shows that when people try to do multiple things at once - e.g., cook dinner and write a memo - they're less effective at both. However, listening to music on an iPod is not multitasking; it's background music.

Your firm could use this phenomenon to its advantage. What if different departments or generations created their own playlists, and distributed them? ... Bonus points if you can get the team to listen to Mozart or classical music; research shows it increases creativity and performance!

Pretty cool, right? Think you have a real stumper for Rebecca? E-mail her at rr@nextgenerationconsulting.com. If your question is chosen, you'll receive a free copy of her book, Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Mind of the Next Generation. Questions and answers will be posted on www.accountingtomorrow.com.

And if you want to become involved in AccountingTomorrow, e-mail tomorrow@sourcemedia.com and we'll brainstorm with you.

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