cross-generation communicationdiversity and inclusiondiversity dialoguesgeneration differences

The Myths and Realities of Four Generations in the Workplace

By September 2, 2009 No Comments

I’ve been designing a new workshop on “The Myths and Realities of Four Generations in the Workplace.”

I’ve observed a tendency in some organizations, and by some authors on generation differences, to categorize and stereotype people based on the years they were born. I’ve come to realize that while each generation has been impacted by events and experiences as they were growing up, not everyone in each generation has been impacted in the same way.

It’s most important to understand people’s concerns about inclusion and exclusion and break through assumptions and biases.

I’ve conducted extensive interviews with members of each generation and found common themes. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected for what they bring to the workplace.

Older employees worry about being considered “over the hill,” or irrelevant. Younger employees are concerned that their skills and experiences will be considered trivial or not valid.

If you want employees to feel included, engaged and to contribute to your organizations and their own success, you need to take three key steps:
1- Identify what motivates them
2- Identify their concerns and performance roadblocks and take action to help them breakthrough those obstacles
3- Learn about their generation’s cultural norms, demonstrate flexibility in how to achieve objectives, and focus on outcomes, rather than insisting they do it your way.

Young employees are more likely to achieve objective using newer technology, while older employees may be more likely to achieve objectives through face-to-face contact. And remember there is always the possibility that the opposite may be true, so take the time to listen and observe. People over 65 created computer technology and younger employees created “tweet ups,” bringing people who use twitter together in one place and forming new interpersonal relationships.

You can create opportunities for employees of different generations to interact with each other to share information, best practices and develop new solutions that will result in improved performance and increased profit.

Simma Lieberman

Author Simma Lieberman

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