In her TedTalk, Leah Georges outlines the diversity in how people of different generations interact in the workplace. She explained that people born from 1922-1943 are particularly mature, quite, value self sacrifice, have a respect for authority and work for reward. Therefore, they are not particularly skilled at communication, accustomed to long work hours, tend to buy-in to a one company’s common cause and stay there. On the other hand, people born from 1944-1960 are characterized by hard work, appreciate competition, love effective communication, and are thinking towards retirement. That said, they would also be likely to stay at one company, value job security, and are willing to work long hours now to rest later. In contrast, people born from 1961-1980 are part of the first generation with divorced parents, value work/life balance, and expect generous benefits. Therefore, they prefer less work hours and tend to move from company to company in order to get all that they need. Milleniels, born from 1981-2000, never knew a time technology wasn’t present in the home, are incredibly pragmatic, hopeful, determined, idealistic and think they’re going to change the world. Workplace culture is a priority for them and they are willing to move from company to company as they care less about job security than the previous generations because they have more access to knowledge about the other possibilities aside from where they are now. Since they are determined, they do not mind working long hours and technology plays a strong role in their communication style. Finally, the most recent generation is severely immersed in technology and are even more adventurous than the millennial in terms of their perspective on job security and attrition. According to Celeste Headlee (2015), a challenge that is particularly difficult for a multi-generational workplace is that we make decisions based on what we already believe.
Additionally, due to differences in perspective, one challenge Glenn D. Rolfsen brought up in his TedTalk is that a great number of employees and leaders talk negatively about their colleagues when they’re not present. He recommended a way to strategically manage it is to define gossip and then ask the employees, does gossip take place? After that, inquire whether they would you like to work in a place without gossip. Then, define no gossip as a project and employees can sign as obligation to join the project. From there, a leader can publicly display the signed sheet so that employees can be held accountable to stick with their commitment. Also, Rolfsen recommended checking in with the employees on a weekly basis by asking them how the project is going. Rolfsen found that his tactic leads to great results. Sick leave decreases and productivity increases at companies that implement it (Rolfsen n.d.).
Further, Georges (n.d.) suggested questioning the power of generational differences. She suggested focusing on the similarities (people want work that matters, flexibility, support, appreciation) that are not tied to generations amongst people in the workplace. She recommended that management takes on a more individualized approach by strategizing about how it can radically meet people where they are at. In turn, management will have a deeper sense of where each person comes from after asking about others with joyful curiosity (Georges n.d.).
From there, Headlee (2015) emphasized that leaders can minimize separation between workers of multiple generations by outlining and modeling how to have direct, quality conversations. There are key principles that leaders can instill in their staff to support the ability for employees to listen to each other. For instance, a leader should encourage employees to set aside personal opinions. Additionally, it is beneficial to let thoughts that come into the mind go out of the mind. That way, the employees will not be concentrated on things they’re wanting to say and finding a time to interject. It is also crucial to say that they don’t know something if they do not know it. Additionally, it is important to not equate their experiences with someone else as they are never the same. To be a good listener, it’s useful to remind yourself that it is not about you. Everything boils down to being interested in the other person (Headlee 2015).
Georges, Leah. (n.d.) “Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace.” TEDxCreightonU. YouTube. May 30, 2018. Video, 15:17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzfAOc4L6vQ
Headlee, Celeste. 2015. “How to Have a Good Conversation.” TEDxCreativeCoast. YouTube. May 7, 2015. Video, 12:06. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6n3iNh4XLI
Rolfsen, Glenn D. Year (n.d.) “How to start changing an unhealthy work environment.” TEDxOslo. YouTube. May 2, 2016. Video, 8:31. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYLb7WUtYt8
Comment by Paul Hamilton:
Managing a multigenerational differences is one of the factors on how the workforce is going to be able to adapt to constant change. I agree with the statement that is we make decision based on what we already believe. This is what is going to have an influence on the evolving workplace demographics and relations not only in age, but ethic cultures and gender identity.
Eswaran (2019) makes that argument that a more diverse workforce is going to be more successful. Higher revenues due to greater creativity and better problem solving capabilities. Highly functioning cross demographic groups is going win more consistently then teams with no diversity. With diversity comes different views, experiences and abilities that can result in solutions that other teams just might not see.
Generations have different views about how to interact with other generations, ethic groups and genders. Developing a process to meld these groups together to harness the is the leaders challenge. I agree that communications is the barrier breaker. One of Dale Carnegies solution to get people to like you is it get people to talk about themselves. Listen to learn why they think the way they do. Its from there a foundation can be built. Not everyone is going to adapt, but most will once they see others want the same things they do it just is packaged a bit differently at times. The business must have a strong commitment and defined policy to equality to prevent any actions that could derail the efforts. These combined can influence the success a leader will have in creating a successful workforce of any make up.
Eswaran, Vijay. “The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming.” (World Economic Forum. 29 Apr 2019). https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/business-case-for-diversity-in-the-workplace/