Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Generations at work

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, June 9, that some corporate managers are finding ways to close the culture gaps at work between multiple generations.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are working alongside and supervising Generation X'ers, born between 1965 and 1977, or newly hired "millenials" born after 1978. Conversely, X'ers or even millenials may be flanked by the different generations they supervise.

Styles of the generations differ radically, not only in how they dress but how they learn and communicate on the job. The Journal's article highlighted experiences of managers at IBM, including one who supervises search and content software development and another who handles training.

Having employees pool their strengths rather than argue about whose talents were more vital got the product launched in record time. Training had to recognize that boomers are accustomed to learning in classrooms with teachers, while Generation X'ers prefer Web courses to do on their own, and the networking-prone millennials enjoy blogs.

The article highlights approaches to stereotypical styles of different generations, but my observation is that, today, all generations are starting to find the benefits of change. Baby boomers are blogging and millennials are being mentored and coached, much like in a classroom. Still, hallway stories abound about what the boss said or the employee did.

Nearly a third of the 1.6 million member full-time federal workforce is expected to retire or resign over the next five years. Generational gaps are another hurdle to cross for government to retain and recruit the workers needed. How is it going where you work?

Posted by Judith Welles on Jul 10, 2007 at 12:13 PM


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