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 ‘Generations’
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.
How American workers feel about their role in the company differs with the generations, according to a survey of 27,813 employees at 13 companies conducted by ISR, a Chicago research and consulting firm. “Employees nationwide face workplace challenges in dealing with a number of issues, including company leadership, talent management, competitiveness and empowerment,” says Patrick Kulesa, ISR Global Research Director. “Our research uncovered significant differences in how the generations view their companies and their roles in them. Understanding these generation gaps and why they occur can help firms to increase employee engagement – and decrease turnover.”
The survey found that the youngest employees, those under 25, are the most optimistic about company leadership and career development, but are less engaged with their organizations. The Gen Xers (25-44 years old) are the least satisfied and most pessimistic about their corporate futures. The Baby Boomers (45-54) and Veterans (over 55) are least favorable on job authority and having information necessary to do their jobs, and they’re more concerned with “big picture” issues. “Past experience and changes in the social structure and the corporate environment may well have contributed to the disparity in attitudes between the generations,” says Kulesa.
The most optimistic group is the Nexters, or Millenials. These under-25-year-old employees are positive about company leadership and opportunities, even though they feel they don’t have adequate authority to service customers from their positions as front-line service providers. And although they have a natural inclination to work in teams, they’re not feeling favorable toward workplace groups. Although a common assumption would be that older workers want more stability, Nexters were the most disgruntled about the constantly shifting objectives of their companies. “This is a case of positive energy meeting the stiff realities of corporate America,” says Patrick Kulesa, ISR Global Research Director. ” These young employees are not fully engaged. Research suggests they would like to feel more empowered to serve customers.”
The most pessimistic employees are the Generation Xers, employees between 25 and 44 years old. “They’re the wet blankets in the workplace,” says Kulesa. Gen Xers are least positive about their company’s competitiveness in the market. Late Gen Xers, in particular, (35-44 years old) are least satisfied with their companies overall, and the most worried about employment security. Unlike Nexters, who are more conformist, Gen Xers are more independent and creative, notes Kulesa. He adds that research suggests that Gen Xers may also be concerned about the control that the Baby Boomers have over their corporate futures. The Gen X pessimism and need for security may well have been shaped by the changing family structures of the 70s and the 80s and the dramatic increase in divorce.
The older workers, the Baby Boomers (employees 45-54) and Veterans (55 and older) make up what Kulesa terms an “empowerment cliff.” The Baby Boomers, as well as late Gen Xers, do not believe they have sufficient job authority. The Veterans, by virtue of their greater experience and credibility, should feel empowered to challenge traditional ways more than any other generation; yet they do not. “Interestingly, the factors that drive employee engagement vary across these generational groups in a very distinct way,” Kulesa says. ” Nexters and Gen Xers are more motivated by the reward systems (current and potential), while Baby Boomers and Veterans focus more on recognition distinct from pay and benefits.”
Copyright 2007. Reprinted with permission from hr.com
Dialogue Among Generations
Learn the art of dialogue in this video that focuses on communication across generations.