Justin: The Workplace Generation Gap.

In Human behavior, Org B, Strategy, Tolerance on 10/01/2009 at 1:18 pm

Justin Roy (@justingroy) is my designated Twitter BFF. In his blog post about the workplace generation gap, he wrote:

“With potentially four generations in the office, there is bound to be animosity, mostly based on the lack of understanding of each others values.”

We all value different things based on our cultural, political, religious, sociological, and now technological experiences – but looking back, I can see how this spectrum of values (with which I didn’t always agree) shaped me in my adult life:

COLLEGE: Political Science professor (Baby Boomer) gave me a “C” on a paper (my first one ever) and said I needed to think more ambitiously. Initially took it as a slap in the face; now can attribute 95 percent of my critical thinking skills to Professor Bowen.

FIRST JOB OUT OF COLLEGE AT LAW FIRM: Partners were noticeably absent (Gen X). R-C-F (the partners) would collaborate on the golf course. Me and the other Gen Y-ers devised strategies to post-it-note their offices. They caught us and joined in the fun. I realized that bosses aren’t always intimidating.

MY OWN ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURES: Parents (silently) skeptical. Co-generational friends supportive by saying stuff like “Mari’s a do-er.” Tons of social interaction and idea sharing. I take two hour lunches. (Justin does too = BFF). I am happy with my life; full circle = my parents are happy.

I’ve learned a lot from other generations. Though it’s clear I think much differently than they do.

Since this conversation, I’ve been thinking to myself – what can I do to increase my own tolerance of others’ values and viewpoints in my own professional and personal organizations? How can I help foster this culture among my employees?



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