Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Multigenerational Conflict at Work—A two-way street

The first time I became aware of challenges specific to different generations working together in a client organization, was over a decade ago. Social media was not yet a major part of our culture. But already, the mix of generations at work was causing its share of covert challenges.  I mention “covert” because the challenges were rarely discussed openly at that time. Young professionals were coming in with valid ideas for new and more efficient ways to utilize technology. They were often stifled by unavailable budgets for change or seasoned managers who were dealing with their own anxiety about learning new systems. The seasoned professionals were building resentment for young professionals who came to the table with proposals for change, with so little experience, in comparison to their own. The younger professionals became increasingly frustrated as they couldn’t get their arms around why their leaders wouldn’t be interested in more efficient and productive processes.

Today, the challenges people from different generations experience with their younger or older counterparts, managers, or employees, can be palpable. For example, Baby Boomer leaders are asking….How do we manage this younger want-it-now generation who don’t seem to understand the culture we live in and the standards we live by? And Millennials are asking…How do we communicate and collaborate with older managers who don’t seem to recognize how are skills can benefit the organization?  People are more likely today to voice their concerns, or judgments, but there is definitely room for more candid and solution-oriented dialogue between generations.

Last week, I was doing some research for a client who is interested in more effectively managing up to a different generation. I came across this article from Birkman International, a Behavioral and Occupational Assessment company with a large global reach. If the topic of generational differences interests you, whether you’re leading,  managing upward, or both, you may find this article valuable and validating. It reflects the fact that every generation is experiencing their own set of challenges with each other’s values, work ethic, and approach to reaching goals and objectives.

It’s not just about how different generations get along. It’s about all of us creating a collaborative environment with diverse colleagues, leaders and customers, during a time of exponential change. —An interesting read that may have us understanding each other a little better.

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