Leading Gen X and Gen Y: Don’t Put Me in a Box

There’s so much misinformation and false assumptions about what it’s like to manage younger workers. I caution people to not jump to conclusions when they categorize the younger generations at work. No one likes to be put into a box and be stereotyped.

Here’s a great blog post about what it’s like for Gen X (often working parents) … Generation X Doesn’t Want to Hear It.

Combined, Gen X and Gen Y already outnumber Boomers and Veterans. Boomers no longer hold the majority vote, although most hold all the positions of power.

This transition isn’t something we can ignore. Managers need to learn to leverage each generation’s strengths for the benefit of all, or risk becoming less productive.

There is no room to allow tradition and convenience to hinder performance and productivity. There’s also not much room for generational judging or complaining.

Managers need to find opportunities for a multi-generational work force to share its differences. Here’s another area where the generations differ:

Clash Point #4: Learning

Older generations are linear learners, comfortable sitting in classes, reading manuals and pondering materials before beginning to implement new programs.

Newer workers learn “on demand,” which to Boomers means they just want to “wing it,”  figuring things out as they go. Gen-Y learning is interactive, using the Internet, Wikipedia and blogs.

Gen Y doesn’t hesitate to call a friend or send an email directly to the CEO. They ask questions and get their information instantaneously. They are easily bored by training sessions, manuals and programs that spoon-feed information over time.

Attitudes about work, about meetings, and the ways we communicate with each other are issues we can’t ignore at work. They’re crucial to people being able to team up and be productive together. Anyone running a business knows this, but many choose to believe managers and workers will simply work these issue out using common sense.

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