The generation thing

There are many references to aspects of generation differences in everyday life. Historically in Europe there was a TV show based on the differences among age groups. There are often throwaway comments using generation to explain attitudes, and of course there are marketing pitches to specific groups. All of these and similar things may well have some validity, but we believe that the relevance in the workplace is sometimes ignored at the sharp end and often not enough attention is paid to the detail.

Our comments are specifically focused on the opportunity that exists to improve performance, balance the talent resource and develop the natural existence to transfer experience and learning. Too often we find generational differences used to explain and excuse behavior or conflict. Whilst there may well be nothing wrong with all of this, it can sometimes mask and even undermine a management and leadership opportunity.

Given the fact that we are now all living longer and for economic and medical reasons most nations will be extending the retirement age, it is almost certain that the number of different generations in the workplace will achieve a new high. This is a magnificent state of play to take advantage of — as long as management and leaders both recognize and embrace the opportunity. The following views may provide an incentive and direction to develop some strategies.

Firstly, it makes sense to balance the age groups within your business in order to provide energy, technology skills and experience. Youth is a marvelous catalyst to get things done — often quickly — and having team members who have been there and bought the T-shirt provides sound know-how. Whilst this may seem obvious, there is little evidence to support the fact that organizations give the matter sufficient thought, attention and due process.

Secondly, we recommend that within any corporate-communication cycle platforms exist both on a business and social basis for generations to engage. It is not unusual to observe a segmentation of group behavior in this respect within organizations.

Thirdly, the training strategy should embody the transference of skills between generations in order for all to learn and develop further initiatives to drive business performance and customer delight. Never is this point more relevant than with the continuous development in technology. We believe the benefits of combining generational talent into delivering service through the sensible application of technology is immense.

There are of course many other initiative available and that can be created. These three are only thoughts to perhaps trigger the development of a clear generation strategy in your workplace.

What do you think, and do you have examples of good generational management and strategies?