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WORKING EFFECTIVELY ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES
    Photo of Don Sutaria
February 2011
 
 
 
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

In this issue we present a thoughtful and practical article, How to Work Effectively with an Inter-Generational Workforce—Some Insights.

Many of you have suggested that we write separate articles on working with Generation X and Generation Y. We plan to do so in future issues of this newsletter.

Book Endorsements
Our book, Career and Life Counseling From the Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!), has received many excellent reviews. Ten reviews give the book a 5-star rating, and four have a 4-star rating.

Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? says:
"Don Sutaria is one of the career counselors I most admire in the U.S. He talks about things other career counselors don't, like "your soul." Now he has written a book I like a lot, with brilliant short chapters you can digest day by day. I recommend it unreservedly to everyone."
We are deeply grateful for his endorsement.

  Career and Life Counseling From the Heart book cover
This book has been nicknamed as Chicken Soup for Your Career! Take a peek inside this book at Amazon.com before you decide to buy it. It is also available as an e-book from iUniverse.

Career Doctor Don's Column
Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions appears as a regular feature in the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) - New Jersey Chapter newsletters. Visit www.ispe.org to read more.

February Gift for ISPE Members
ISPE has also included CareerQuest's January 2011 article, Keep Your Faith During Your Job Search, in their February Gift for ISPE Members. The article provides perspective and encouragement to those seeking work during these challenging times. If you are not a member of ISPE, you can still read this article in CareerQuest's Newsletter Archive on our website.

Articles on www.Biz4NJ.com
Several of our articles will continue to appear on www.Biz4NJ.com. The mission of this website is to "Help Garden State Business Grow."

Keep your feedback coming. Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends, remembering to give us the due credit.

Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail,

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.)
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach
CareerQuest


 
  How to Work Effectively with an Inter-Generational Workforce—Some Insights  
  by Don Sutaria

The underlying idea here is how to make age differences work in the workplace, without causing an enormous amount of friction and damaged personal relationships.

The four generations currently in the workforce bring differing sets of attitudes, behaviors and expectations to the workplace. Even their values and vocabularies are different. Under ideal circumstances, shouldn't we at least get along?

Depression Babies or Traditionalists:
This is a large group of almost 75 million, born between 1926 and 1946, spanning the Great Depression and World War II. I am one of them, born in 1940. Just look around you: in most cases they have a positive upward and onward attitude towards their job, keep their heads down and plug away, and rarely complain. Perhaps they have truly gone through the wringer during their formative years. Their heroes were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. How about memories of Pearl Harbor, Bay of Pigs and Korea? By and large, this group is loyal, grateful and patriotic.

Baby Boomers:
They were born between 1946 and 1964 and they number 80 million strong. They are actually the largest of the four groups we are discussing in this article, and also aging. Their heroes were people such as John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinem, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Garcia and last but not least, the Beatles. Places like Kent State, Woodstock and Hanoi Hilton stir up special memories for them. Television changed their world dramatically, such as seeing the Vietnam War in their own living rooms. This generation, too, had a special kind of youthful optimism that they could really change America and the world and that the sky was the limit! There were protests and turmoil all around them.

Generation X-ers:
Believe it or not, this group hates this pigeon-holing label. They were born between 1964 and 1980, about 46 million of them. Their growing up years were influenced by the likes of Al Bundy, Bill Clinton, Madonna and Dennis Rodman. They lived through a dramatic ever-changing world which brought the downfall of the Soviet Union, Lockerbie plane crash and the proliferation of computers and the Internet. Technology and media defined and shaped this generation. They have developed a great deal of skepticism, observing the lives of their parents. It appears to them that they have been handed a broken world, which they are stuck with and need to fix. Refreshingly enough, this group still puts a lot of faith in the individual and in themselves. But faith in employers and institutions like government and marriage? Nooooooooooooooooo!

Gen X-ers have no qualms about changing jobs every year or two to advance. Why shouldn't they, when employers show no loyalty and they have seen their parents being downsized after years of loyal labor? A traditionalist may be horrified at this approach.

Gen X-ers need frequent and constant feedback because that is how they are wired. Baby Boomers do not like that.

If you are managing Gen-X employees, try not to do the following:
  • Micromanage
  • Fail to give timely feedback
  • Ignore employee suggestions
  • Overlook unacceptable behavior
  • Give assignments without reasons
  • Allow a cluttered, dirty or disorganized workplace
  • Assign jobs without proper training
  • Give insincere thank-yous
  • Give virtually meaningless raises
  • Expect overtime without compensation
Gen-X is turned on by job sharing, cross-training, flexible benefits, full status for part-time employees, spending time with managers, respect for their suggestions and ideas, potential for internal promotion based on good work, flextime, regular staff meetings, and a collegial and productive work atmosphere relatively free of dirty politics.

Gen-X is turned off by hollow incentive programs, hype, pretentiousness, inadequate compensation, high-stress work situations, social irresponsibility and poor quality products.

Generation Y-ers or Millennials:
Wow! Some 76 million strong! They were born between 1980 and 1999. The "early birds" are just barely entering the workforce. They have lived through a lot, such as the 9/11, Columbine and Space Shuttle disasters. Culturally they are tied in with Britney Spears, Kurt Cobain, Beyonce, Serena Williams, Prince William and Marilyn Manson. Observing them may re-kindle your hope. By and large, they were raised by mostly optimistic baby boomers. They appear to be confident and realistic. They appear to be willing to tackle situations which have gone askew, and take positive and concrete action. Gen Y-ers feel that changing jobs is normal everyday routine.

Gen-Y is turned on by:
  • Giving them authority with responsibility
  • Freedom to think and act outside the box
  • Work-Life balance
  • Fitness and wellness programs
  • Multitasking
  • Nurturing, encouragement and rewards
  • Money
  • Participative management style
  • Social interactions with colleagues
  • Shared humanistic values
  • Personal relationship with the immediate supervisor
  • Pleasant living surroundings with high quality of life
Gen-Y is turned off by:
  • Micromanagement
  • Failure to give quick feedback
  • Ignoring their suggestions
  • Not providing answers to their "Whys?"
  • Not accepting the use of appropriate technologies
The Tower of Babel - "I Don't Speak Your Language":
Now let us imagine placing all these four distinctive ingredients in the stew pot called the factory or office environment...and watch something happen!

The older generation needs to train the younger generation and pass on the wisdom, knowledge and experience, especially at managerial levels. But if I don't speak your language, how can I communicate effectively?

Experts like Stillman and Lancaster tell us that their research shows that each one of the generations seems to be undervalued and disliked by the other generations at work. What a sad picture. But all is not lost. Stillman and Lancaster give us some survival tips.

Then we can all get along...
Stillman & Lancaster's Survival Tips:
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt: Don't assume everyone is playing by your rules with your definitions. Too often, somebody may feel that a rule was "broken" by a colleague when that person didn't even know the rule existed.
  • Flexibility is in: Employees of different generations thrive in cultures where they can be who they are and express themselves, where they are encouraged to learn from, and not become, one another.
  • Our way is not the only way: Instead of being stuck in our own mindset, we need to find a way to connect with one another. We need to listen, to consider other possibilities, not to assume that our way is always the best. Every generation in the workplace or at home can be pronounced guilty at some time or another, on this score.

                           Photo of hands together in a circle

Closing Thought:
Dear reader, let's make a mutual commitment. We can make a concerted effort to expose ourselves to generational diversity at work and at home. The result may be wonderful insights gained, like no one is right or wrong, just different. Then we can all get along...just a shade better than we did earlier.





Don Sutaria, also known as "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).


 
 
Don Sutaria, M.S., I.E. (Prof.)   
don@careerquestcentral.com     www.careerquestcentral.com     http://careerquestcentral.blogspot.com   
Phone: (908) 686-8400     Fax: (908) 686-8400 (on request)     Cell: (908) 377-9015   
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