by Carol Decker
Originally published: June 14, 2016
We all know the generalizations associated with different age groups. For example, Millennials (or Generation Y) are characterized as having a sense of entitlement, being social, active, and concerned about the environment. Generation X accepts technology, social diversity, and racial diversity.
Generation Xers can also be individualistic, adaptable, and press toward self-sufficiency. They aren’t into pampering nor do they care what people think of them. Baby Boomers are willing to change and experience new things, such as purchasing online and using social networking sites. They are expected to remain vibrant through retirement years. The Silent Generation, those born from 1925 through 1945, are remaining active, are demanding, and enjoy grandparenting. However, they remain desirous of achievement, power, and status.
Outside the workplace, individuals may be quick to make concessions or demands based upon the type of people they observe. For example, assistance may be offered to an elderly person because they are perceived to be feeble. Also, individuals in certain age groups are often perceived as slower and therefore others might grant assistance to speed up their processes. While we use those generational labels to help understand people we interact with outside the workplace, it is important to have that same understanding when we having dealings with different generations in the workplace.
Generation gaps often exist in the workplace whether between co-workers or between supervisors and subordinates. Often, conflicts can have something to do with generational differences. Finding a solution means taking differing viewpoints into account. One employee might be tired of another employee dropping into their office on a consistent basis. Another employee might think her co-workers need to embrace social networking. Generational awareness can be the link to organizational health. An individual’s behavior may not be cause for termination but rather cultivation.