So I was talkin’ ’bout my generation (and other generations) in the workplace for this week’s ATTD 6210 trend report, and it had me thinking about the generation gap. There are now four different generations working side-by-side in the workforce – which has not happened before. This means it’s probably a good idea for organizations to take a look at who is actually sitting around the board room table and better understand how to manage this group effectively.
I am a Generation X kid. After reading the ASTD article, Guiding Generation X to Lead, I very much identified with all these Gen X perspectives:
- resourceful and hardworking
- meet commitments and take employability seriously
- value self-reliance.
- well-honed survival skills and nurtured networks prepare them to handle whatever happens
- are comfortable in a global and digital world
- adopted the collaborative technology to reshape how we work and live
- has an unconscious acceptance of diversity
- uncanny ability to redefine issues and question reality
- skeptical and innovative
- look for different ways to move forward
- prepared to serve as pragmatic managers
- options thinkers – like choices
- like to develop multiple skills because that provides them with the opportunity to move in various directions
Although I identify with the Gen X’ers I still test high in the next generation with my “How Millennial Are You?” survey results sitting at 93%. I suppose I have worked and studied amongst Generation Y for sometime, and it is quite possible that I may have picked up on a habits or two.
There may be some differences between generations, however it is critical to find suitable practices, structures and methods for management that meet the needs of the entire team. This just means good management practices can help support generational differences, communication, group dynamics, staff training and retention of employees. The competition for talent will be initially addressed in the array of benefits to attract the top talent from across the generations (Rowe, 2010). It is also costly to replace experienced and skilled labor, so organizations should consider the creation of programs to encourage workers to stay or partially retire to help employee retention.
Engagement, communication and inclusion of all employees across the generational groups is the key to long-term success. The following approaches to dealing with multigenerational workplaces was suggested from the the 2004 Society of Human Resources Management Generational Differences Survey that still hold true today:
- communicating information in multiple ways
- promoting collaborative discussion, decision making or problem solving
- using team-building activities
- offering different types of training to accommodate different generations
- creating mentoring program between generations
- training managers on dealing with generational differences
Coupland, D. (1991). Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Erickson, T.G. (2010, August). Guiding Generation X to Lead. Training + Development Magazine, 16.
Rossi, J. (2007, November). What Generation Gap?: Are generational difference in the workplace a myth? ASTD Training + Development Magazine, 10-11.
Rowe, K.A. (2010, March). Managing Across Generations. Infoline: Tips, Tools, and Intelligence for Trainers. Volume 27, Issue 1003.