The culture in which someone grows up is only part of what drives their needs, capabilities and limitations on the job. “Stage in life” and overall psychological development are an important part of the equation. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Generational Conflict’
Despite all we’ve heard recently about the differences between the four generations in the workplace, a new book flies in the face of the conventional wisdom on the subject. Jennifer Deal’s research shows that regardless of age, we all want the same things: respect, trustworthy leaders, and opportunities to grow. (And nobody likes change.)
The conventional wisdom about generational differences in the workplace is mostly wrong, according to a new book by Jennifer J. Deal, a research scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership.
The shorthand used to describe the four generations that now make up our nation’s workforce goes something like this:
• The Silent Generation (born before 1946) values hard work
• Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) value loyalty
• Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) value work-life balance
• Generation Y (the generation just entering the workforce, also known as Millennials) values innovation
Or, in terms of negative stereotypes, the Silents are fossilized, the Boomers are narcissistic, the Gen Xers are slackers, and the Gen Yers/Millennials are even more narcissistic than the Boomers.
Not so, says Deal. She argues that the generations now of working age value essentially the same things. Her findings, based on seven years of research in which she surveyed more than 3,000 corporate leaders, are presented in her new book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (Jossey-Bass).
“Our research shows that when you hold the stereotypes up to the light, they don’t cast much of a shadow,” says Deal. “Everyone wants to be able to trust their supervisors, no one really likes change, we all like feedback, and the number of hours you put in at work depends more on your level in the organization than on your age.”
Clearly, people of different ages see the world in different ways. But Deal says that’s not the primary reason for generational conflict. The conflict has less to do with age or generational differences than it does with clout – who has it and who wants it. “The so-called generation gap is, in large part, the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, fueled by common insecurities and the desire for clout,” says Deal.
Summary of Deal’s Findings
- All generations have similar values. For example, family tops the list for all of the generations. The most striking result of the research, Deal says, is how similar the generations are in the values that matter most.
- Everyone wants respect. Everyone wants respect, but the generations don’t define it in the same way. In the study, older individuals talked about respect in terms of “giving my opinions the weight I believe they deserve,” while younger respondents characterized respect as “listen to me, pay attention to what I have to say.”
- Leaders must be trustworthy. Different generations do not have notably different expectations of their leaders. Above all else, people of all generations want leaders they can trust.
- Nobody likes change. The stereotype is that older people resist change while younger people embrace it. These assumptions don’t stand up under the research, which found that people from all generations are uncomfortable with change. Resistance to change has nothing to do with age; it has to do with how much you stand to gain or lose as a result of the change.
- Loyalty depends on context. It is said that younger generations are not as loyal to their organizations as older workers. But the research shows, for example, that the amount of time a worker puts in each day has more to do with his or her level in the organization than with age. The higher the level, the more hours worked.
- Everyone wants to learn. Learning and development were among the issues brought up most frequently by people of all generations. Everyone wants to learn and to ensure they have the training to do their job well.
- Everyone likes feedback. According to the research, everyone wants to know how they are doing and to learn how they can do better.
For additional information, visit the Center for Creative Leadership Website at www.ccl.org
Article by: The Canadian Management Centre, a highly recommended provider of business development courses and marketing seminars. Canadian Management Centre is a leader in professional development with accounting courses in Ottawa.
Need more help in this area? Please Respect My Generation lets you examine the different world-views and life experiences of the 5 generations now in the workplace, while highlighting the strengths of each group. Viewers see how to focus on finding common ground, respecting one another and striving for cross-generational collaboration.
Interpersonal conflicts can wreak havoc on an organization. Whether it’s a silent war between departments, a hostile relationship between two co-workers, or a damaging relationship with a vendor, when two or more people are caught in an interpersonal tug-of-war, the organization pays
In fact, it is estimated that 20-50% of work time is routinely wasted on bickering, backstabbing, vying for approval and other forms of emotional inefficiency.
Instead of focusing on the work at hand, employees spend time recovering from interactions with a bullying boss, or griping with their colleagues about an irritating co-worker. Sometimes, the most capable employee becomes the least productive worker because he or she is burnt out from months of compensating for less motivated members of the work team.
Emotional inefficiency can develop from something as simple as a constant noise distraction whereby one loud, talkative person eats up hours of other people’s concentration. It can also occur between departments–one team becomes resentful of another team’s inability to meet deadlines. Instead of resolving the problem, a cold war ensues. Both sides quietly sabotage the other.
Ø If your workplace consists of cubicles and open workspaces where there is little privacy and plenty of pressure, you can hold workshops in setting boundaries and teach co-workers how to respect each other’s space so that optimal productivity takes place.
Ø If employees have trouble understanding what is expected of them from their bosses, they can be taught the skill of Managing Up – taking concrete steps to meet with, report to, and get direction from the people who supervise them.
Ø If you have four generations of employees with distinctly different experience levels and values, you can prevent cross-generational rifts by building awareness and tolerance through diversity training and instructing people in the soft skills of team building and communication.
The ability to resolve personal conflicts ultimately rests with the individual. Yet, companies are in a unique position to assist their employees in this area. Learning soft skills is the toughest part of any job. To improve the bottom line and guarantee a happier workforce, organizations must consider investing in the people side of making work work.
Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster are co-authors of the nationally best-selling book, Working With You is Killing Me: Freeing Yourself from Emotional Traps at Work. For over twenty years, they have helped people within corporations, government agencies and universities manage workplace relationships. To see the CRM Learning training video based on their book go to: www.crmlearning.com/working-with-you-is-killing-me
“You can work with — or manage — people from all generations effectively without selling your soul on eBay or pulling your hair out on a daily basis,” says the Center for Creative Leadership’s Jennifer Deal. Look past the stereotypes and learn these ten truths about generational conflicts at work, gleaned from a seven-year CCL study.
1. All generations have similar values. Many people talk about enormous differences in values between older and younger people as if these differences were an established fact. The most striking result from CCL’s research is how similar the generations are in their values priorities. Family is the value chosen most frequently by people of all generations. Other values named to the top ten by all generations included integrity, achievement, love, competence, happiness, self respect, wisdom, balance and responsibility. So why do people at work think the values of different generations are so different? Because even though the values are the same, the behaviors that go along with those values may be very different.
2. Everyone wants respect. We often hear that younger people are disrespectful of older employees and people in authority. We also hear complaints that older people show no respect for younger talent and ideas. The reality is that everyone wants respect – they just don’t define it the same way. Older people primarily talked about respect in terms of “give my opinions the weight I believe they deserve” and “do what I tell you to do.” Younger respondents characterized respect more as “listen to me” and “pay attention to what I have to say.”
3. Trust matters. The different generations have similar levels of trust in their organization and in upper management – they don’t trust them much. People of all generations and at all levels trust the people they work with directly (bosses, peers and direct reports) more than they trust their organizations. And people trust their organization more than they trust upper management.
4. People want leaders who are credible and trustworthy. What do different generations expect from their leaders? It turns out that age does not appear to matter much. People of all generations want their leaders to be credible, to be trusted, to listen well, to be farsighted and to be encouraging.
5. Organizational politics is a problem — no matter how old or young you are.
Everyone who isn’t winning at the political game dislikes it. People from all generations are concerned about the effects of organizational politics on their careers, on being recognized for the work they are doing and for getting access to the resources they need to do their job. Even if they don’t like it, employees know that political skills are a critical component in being able to move up and be effective at higher levels of management.
6. No one really likes change. The stereotype is that older people dislike anything about their workplace being changed and that younger people love change. These assumptions are not true. In general, people from all generations are uncomfortable with change. Only 12 people in the study said they actually liked change! Resistance to change has nothing to do with age; it is all about how much one has to gain or lose with the change.
7. Loyalty depends on the context, not on the generation. It’s often said that young people are no longer loyal to their organizations in the way that young people were in the past. Our research shows that younger generations are not more likely to job-hop than older generations were at the same age. In addition, people of all generations don’t necessarily think that being loyal in the old sense is good for their careers. The perception that older people are more loyal is, in fact, associated with context, not age. For example, people who are closer to retirement are more likely to want to stay with the same organization for the rest of their working life, and people higher in an organization work more hours than do people lower in the organization.
8. It’s as easy to retain a young person as it is to retain an older one — if you do the right things. Just about everyone feels overworked and underpaid. People of all generations have the same ideas about what their organization can do to retain them.
- Opportunities to advance within their organization.
- Learning and development.
- Respect and recognition.
- Better quality of life.
- Better compensation.
9. Everyone wants to learn — more than just about anything else. Learning and development were among the issues brought up the most frequently by people of all generations. Everyone wants to learn — people of all generations want to make sure they have the training necessary to do their current job well. They are also interested in what they need to be learning to get to the next level in their organization. Five developmental areas have made it onto every generation’s list: leadership, skills training in their field of expertise,
problem solving and decision making, team building and communication skills.
10. Almost everyone wants a coach. We’ve heard that younger people are constantly asking for feedback and can’t get enough of it. We’ve also heard that older people don’t want any feedback at all. According to our research, everyone wants to know how he or she is doing and wants to learn how to do better. Feedback can come in many forms, and people of all generations would love to receive it from a coach.
This article is adapted from a new CCL publication: Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground by Jennifer J. Deal (Jossey-Bass/CCL, 2006).
Mixing Four Generations in the Workplace
This video shows how to find common ground between all workers so everyone can be their best.
Generations: M.E.E.T. for Respect
This valuable program explains the potential for generational conflict, and how to nip problems in the bud.
Dialogue Among Generations
Learn the art of dialogue in this video that focuses on communication across generations.