Global Trends in Management:
Combating the Generation Gap
In times of economic crisis, managers are always looking at ways to improve their productivity and organizational environment in order to sustain the company. Retention, however, has become a major obstacle facing the emerging leader. What exactly is causing this sudden job sprawl? A number of issues have contributed to this movement, namely the generation gap. The existence of four generations in the workforce has caused a critical disparity in the cohesiveness of business. Each characteristic generation has been shaped by individual events in history that have been a factor in their learning styles pertaining to technology, communication methods, motivational elements, job preferences and organizational culture. While each issue is steeped in a lifetime of learning and careers, they can be resolved simply by accurate understanding, effective communication, research, and acceptance. In today’s world, technology is being produced and distributed to the public faster then ever before. The radio took close to about 40 years to reach audiences around the world. Television took over a decade. As years progressed, however, this time decreased immensely. The technological achievement of the internet only took 5 years to reach its audience (Rosen, par. 1). How has this advancement in technology, though, affected the workplace? Currently, there are four generations together in the workforce. The “silent generation” is made up of those workers born before 1946. Then there are the baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1964, followed by Generation X (1965-1980). We are part of the millennial generation, or (generation Y) born from 1980-1994 (Rosen, par 3). Each of these generations has gained different experiences, values, and routines during their time in the workforce. They all think and learn quite differently, affecting how they handle new technology and life changes. However, this doesn’t mean that individuals from different generations can’t work well together and create some value for their organization. Differences in perceptions and attitudes, on the other hand, could negatively impact an organization’s effectiveness. This is why it is very important for managers or leaders of an organization to bridge the generation gap. Being able to bridge the generation gap in the workplace all starts with understanding these four generations and their different perspectives, learning styles, beliefs, needs as well as understanding their personal histories (Wikipedia). In terms of technology, the silent generation was raised without much of it. With that being said, technology, in general, is very confusing, and complicated to them. Nowadays, they have to learn all new skill sets at an age where learning retention is much lower. Their approach to technology, though, is not the only generational characteristic lending to the generation gap. This generation came of age during the depression and WWII when jobs were very scarce and survival was the only goal. For this reason, they value rationality, pragmatism, a strong work ethic and authoritarian leadership. They also tend to match their work environment with their need for fulfillment and personal value system. They have allowed their careers to define their lives, pushing their family lives to the wayside. They take their careers very seriously (Rosen, par 8). The first technological generation was really the baby boomers. The largest group in the workforce today, they were young when the first computers were being developed. Despite this, any technological knowledge was gained after school and relationships were built in person, rather through holding meetings by e-mail or phone calls. Growing up in the post-WWII economic boom, they were given more opportunities and acknowledged the privilege of that fact. Hence, Boomers are fiercely loyal to their jobs; most having a single job throughout their careers. Enormously...
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