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Posts Tagged ‘Generational Conflict’

Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce: Moving Beyond Cultural Context

Friday, September 30th, 2011

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…)

The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

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
and change.

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.

How Interpersonal Conflict Hurts Organizations

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

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
the price.

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.

One approach to solving this problem is to offer individuals concrete skills for managing their workplace relationships.

 

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

 
    

 

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