Generation Gap

If you look around your workplace, you will see four various generations born in different eras, each with different mindsets and work ethics.  A distinct set of experiences plays a major role in shaping the generations and influence their work styles.

Understanding the types of generation, which generation your employees fall into, and how other generations may view their behaviour is vital in bridging the generational gap.

Here are four generations work side by side:

Traditionalists (1945 and before) – (70 or older):

Traditionalists, also known as "Veterans” have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and have good respect for the rules and authority.  They are the generation who did not grow up with mobile devices or computers and influenced by the great depression and Second World War. Traditionalists are disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.

Baby Boomers (1946– 1964) - (51 – 69 years old):

They are the children of traditionalists and influenced by the post-war social changes.  These first TV generations are workaholic, optimistic, self-driven and team-oriented.  Baby Boomers are positive about authority and hierarchal structure, for them work is an exciting adventure.

Generation X (1965–1979) – (37 – 50 years old):

They are also called The Latchkey generation.  Those from this generation are typically self-reliant and well-educated generation so far who have also adapted well to technology.  They are intolerant of bureaucracy, critical, and hardworking.

Generation Y/ Millennials (1980- 1995) - (20 – 36 years old):

Generation Y comes from an era of technology.  This group enjoys teamwork and can be very loyal to their work.  They are highly socialized, loyal, optimistic and needy by Generation X managers.  This generation uses digital media to interact with their friends, families, and colleagues.

Depends on a different set of experiences, each generation has its own distinct views of world, values, and perception of work.  This creates a new challenge in the workplace.  A manager/leader should know how to manage each generation to drive teamwork.  Research shows that the cause of many workplace conflicts is generation gap.

In my former blog post, I discussed managing different personalities at work.  Now, don't let generational gap affect your workplace.

Employers must make workplace arrangements in order to create a productive environment for their workforce, regardless of generation.

Here are some guidelines to address this issue and to create an effective workplace culture:

Adopt Effective Communication Techniques: 

Communicating with your workforce regularly can go a long way in bridging the generational gap as methods of communication between these generations vary a lot.  Employees of each generation work in their own unique way based on their work ethics.  Older generations prefer face-to-face communication while younger generations are more comfortable with web-based communication.  Communicating everyone, in the same manner, will not be effective.  Always try to listen more than you speak.  Lack of communication in person can make older generations feel unappreciated.  It is not a nice idea to have a discussion between generations on sensitive topics.

Support and Learn from each other: 

Every person in your workplace is unique and you have something to learn from each generation, watch them and analyse what they do and why.  Each generation has something to contribute and it’s all about your attitude and perspective.  Appreciate employees of each generation as it can have a direct effect on their productivity and it also makes your colleague feel valued.

Build a strong workplace culture:

Building a strong workplace culture can have a big impact on business success and a proper framework to work within.  The set of shared values, goals, and experiences from each generation can contribute to the success of an enterprise.  It’s easier to build a culture when you can manage employees regardless of their generation.  Changing an existing culture is not an easy task, it requires a lot of communication and countless follow-ups.  By understanding and accepting these generation gaps, you can build a strong workplace culture.

Bridging the generational gaps isn’t rocket science.  Rather than focus on these differences, as a leader, think, how you can get the most out of each generation.

For instance, if you are a Generation Y in the position of managing a Baby Boomer, understand their set of strengths and weaknesses and approach accordingly.

Now share your observations below!