Understanding Generational Differences in the Workplace
For the first time in American history, we have as many as four generations working side-by-side in the workplace. This dynamic presents a unique challenge for today’s organizational leaders. Known as “generational differences”, this diversity includes values as well as learning and work styles, and impacts how business leaders need to think and act.
University of the Rockies School of Organizational Leadership is teaching students the importance of understanding and coping with the struggle generated by these differences. It has become apparent that each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors and expectations that affect things like dealing with change, motivation, communication, maintaining and increasing productivity, etc.
Without a doubt, each generation has been shaped by a distinctive collection of social phenomenons during their lifetime. The first generation, called veterans or the Silent Generation, (born between 1922 and 1945) are generally retired now, but some are still in the workforce. Major influences of their time include the Great Depression, war and the post-war boom.
Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have been influenced by the Vietnam War, the Kennedy and King assassinations, Woodstock, the sexual revolution, putting a man on the moon, etc.
Generation X, who are the children of older boomers (born between 1965 and 1980) were impacted by the decline of American global power, AIDS, MTV, the Challenger disaster, and instant feedback from computers and video games, just to name a few.
Generation Y, or Millennial’s (born between 1981-1999) have labeled themselves the Non-Nuclear Family generation. Some of their influences have been parental excesses, computers and other huge technological advances, along with a recession.
Dr. Paige Graham, Ph.D., a member of the core faculty at University of the Rockies notes “While there are real generational differences, business leaders need to be sure not to generalize each generation. For instance we shouldn’t assume all baby boomers have no technology skills or are all resistant to change.”
“In fact” stated Graham “research indicates individual “life stages”, or where someone’s at in their life, can be a larger factor in separating workers or bringing them together.” For instance, if a worker in their twenties has young children in diapers, they typically will have the same values as a worker in their forties who also has young children in diapers.
“What research has shown is that although there are generational differences, each generation also has a similar set of values.” said Graham. “As an example, each generation listed family as their number one value and integrity second.”
Another factor facing today’s business leaders, Dr. Graham pointed out, is that soon a large number of baby boomers will retire and organizations may be left with a gap. Baby boomers currently account for the majority of leadership within businesses as well as encompass a great deal of organizational knowledge. It is essential for organizational leaders to be prepared and well-informed about the means to handle this dilemma.
University of the Rockies is a well-known leader in graduate level education and can improve business leader’s ability to navigate the needs of their employees. The School of Organizational Leadership instructs students how to manage complex organizational issues by expanding their leadership knowledge and skills.
Course schedules through University of the Rockies are flexible and intentionally structured for working professionals. Students have the option to take online courses or on-campus courses. On-campus classes are available in the evenings, weekends or a through a combination of both. Evening courses meet one night per week, for four hours over a nine weeks period. Weekend classes meet on three weekends over a nine-week term.
If you are interested in a way to advance your leadership skills and learn about managing the issues in today’s workplace, or know someone who is, call University of the Rockies toll-free at 866-442-0808, and talk to an admissions specialist.
A campus tour will be available at 5:30pm on Tuesday, October 9 for anyone who would like to discover more about University of the Rockies.
On Thursday, October 11, at noon, University of the Rockies is holding an Open House and Professional Development Opportunity. Dr. Paige Graham will be speaking on the topic of Intergenerational Leadership. This is a free event that is open to the community. Lunch will be provided, so RSVP is required to 866-442-0808.