As a productive member of society and a member of the work force, noticing a generational difference in the workplace is not uncommon. In my experience working a regular nine to five and also owning my own business, I have encountered this matter. It could be said that these last four generations have experienced a great amount of adversity, progression, and hard times. It could be said that even though we are speaking about people from different generations, the similarities in the history and occurrences can be seen.
Whether it is living through a depression, experiencing a war, or witnessing technological advancements; there is a common ground. The reason for looking at this issue through this open mindset is to be able to properly manage the many variables that can occur within the workplace. Being able to view the issues from a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience can help build a productive and satisfying environment. In reviewing the information provided to us in this matter, it is easy to see where the gaps of differences can occur.
One of the first things that should be reviewed and examined is what the generations consider to be the definition of work. The older generations seem very narrow minded and simple with what consists and is expected from their work. It seems that the focus in traditionalist and baby boomers was hard work and climbing the corporate ladder. For the next two generations, the x and y, we notice that a balance between work and life is becoming an important factor. Second issue that should be looked at is the way these generations look at authority and their meaning of leadership.
The older generations believe in those that have seniority and tenure, leaving their expectations to time and experience. They also believe in a hierarchy of power and believe in the style of control and command. The younger generations have a need for answers. They look at authority as questionable and at their same level. Even though they understand that there must be leadership, they may just come to them for guidance and some direction. Lastly, the greatest tool and possibly most important thing to look at is communication.
This could mean from how people communicate verbally, physically, manner and even the tools used. The older generations seemed to be discreet, formal and respectful when communicating. They communicate one-on-one and more deal more on an individual level. The following generation seemed to be involved in meetings and focus on issues as team players. They also prefer to be diplomatic, speak open, and practically anytime. The newer generations seem to communicate by being direct and blunt.
They also start to use technology as a means to communicate anytime and as frequent as possible. Their communication seems to be more positive and intellectual, with a broader an open mind. The point of reviewing these details in regards to the style of work produced by these generations is to better help management. Each individual will perform on the basis of what they know. Accordingly, they will also notice the way each other acts and performs. As a manager you need to be able to take the weakness and the strengths of each player and properly distribute the work flow.
Older generations seem to work hard, respond to authority but communicate less frequent. It might be in the best interest to put them in a position of single focused tasks. Something that you can depend on them to get done and not need much help with. The younger generations seem to question authority but seek guidance, and communicate frequently. It would be best to put them in a position where they can be creative, multi task and feel like they are positive team player. Management must focus on similarities that evolve from the generations.
Be aware that change will happen due to the variables of work ethic and even knowledge and comfort with technology. Each generation has a different view on rewards for working, so properly translating that to your team may need to be seen on a case by case and individual basis. A manager must avoid generalizing and stereotyping the people they must be productive with. Being open minded, knowledgeable about your workers and their history, will bring the team closer, the company better and overall produce productive results.