Dealing with the Generation Gap in Your Workplace

By Julian Campbell

Business people having a tug of warGeneration X, Generation Y, Baby Boomer - is there really a generation gap? The number one challenge that most CEOs and manager are touting these days seems to be their inability to understand and communicate with Generation Y and in some cases Generation X. I am personally finding this very hard to understand, and I'm a Baby Boomer!

On the 5th November 1965, the rock group The Who released a 45 record (if anyone can remember what these were) called "My Generation". in it, they decried that older people just didn't understand the young generation. So what's changed?

I accept that a generation that grew up in the last 20 years has different experiences and values than those who grew up 40 or 60 years ago and of course each generation does have this differing basis but the way each of us relates to each other really should not have changed. If you take the time to really understand the motivation, values and beliefs of the other person you should be able to communicate effectively with them.

In 1912, Dale Carnegie launched his world famous training course and 24 years later, in 1936 he released "How to win  friends and influence people" which has gone on to sell over 50 million copies. In Dale Carnegie's own words were:

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity ”

and his book continues to contain the secret formula for effectively dealing with people of any age or gender in any situation.

By applying the proven principles you will have very few challenges with Generation Y or anyone else for that matter. Some of the principles include:

  • "Don't criticize, condemn or complain."
  • "Give people a feeling of importance; praise the good parts of them."
  • "Get the other person to want to do what you want them to by arousing their desires."
  • "Talk in the terms of the other man's interest." "Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely."
  • "Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view."
  • "Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest."

The attitude of your team members is important and probably the one thing you can't change, so your initial selection process is a key factor. Skills can always be taught to someone where as someone with an outstanding skill set but an poor attitude will be a management nightmare. Building trust and loyalty with all team members is important and this can be done by showing a genuine interest in others, coupled with practicing what you preach and doing what you say you will do. Remember too that whilst the younger generations are very technical savvy and communicate readily via SMS and emails, you can't beat some good face to face discussions.

If you follow this guidance you will have a productive and harmonious workplace whether your team members are 16 or 60.

Copyright © Julian Campbell 2007

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