Thursday, 20 August 2015
“Bridging the Generation Gap” ―Professor M.S.Rao
“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” ―George Orwell
Currently there is a widening gap between various generations especially between baby boomers and Generation Y. At the workplace, leaders find it challenging to bridge this gap because the age and experience divide these generations. Of course, there is also a gap between Gen X and Gen Y but it is limited. Let us look at how we can bridge this gap.
Baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Y
The definition of Gen Y is the people born between 1980 and 2000 and the Gen X are the people born between 1960 and 1980. It also differs from country to country. For instance, in Malaysia, the people who are below 35 years of age are known as Gen Y.
Baby boomers came out of several challenges. They saw wars and conflicts and their parents suffering due to world wars. Their mindsets are different. They are conventional and follow the rules of the game and expect others to follow. They are not updated with latest technology. Hence, their mindsets are totally different than that of Gen X and Gen Y. However, the Gen X are bit more flexible and ready to get along with both baby boomers and Gen Y. At times, they are sandwiched between the baby boomers and the Gen Y.
Baby boomers and Gen X opine that Gen Y are demanding, money minded, complaining, impatient, creative, fast learned, vocal, and resourceful. Gen Y expect ownership and recognition. In fact, Gen Y are luckier than baby boomers and Gen X as they were born when the world was stable.
Bridging the Generational Gap
The Gen Y are highly ambitious, intelligent and smart. They are technologically savvy and flexible to adapt. They are often aggressive and break the rules. They care for their personal growth and have a growth mindset. They crave for employability, not employment because they know that there is no permanent employment in this world. They are curious and question a lot. That is why they are also known as ‘Gen Why’. They are often rebellious and challenge the old school of thought. Both Gen X and baby boomers don’t appreciate such behavior. These generations complain that there is no loyalty towards organizations in Gen Y and often feel that Gen Y are fickle minded without any focus on their goals. But when we look at from their perception, the Gen Y are right to some extent. As the world has changed, they have changed. Their expectations and aspirations are different. They belong to a modern school of thought which is quite relevant to the current context. What is essential is to empathize with Gen Y to get along. Both Gen X and baby boomers must realize how they felt towards their older generations when they were young. If they think from that perspective by keeping the present global scenario in view, most of the conflicts in the workplace can be avoided. Additionally, both baby boomers and Gen X must treat Gen Y as collaborators, not as competitors.
Learning new things is very hard. When you learn new things, your brain puts in extra efforts. Gen Y are agile learners because they are young. Gen Y look for learning opportunities, they leave companies when there are no opportunities for their career growth. They believe in the acronym of YOLO – you only live once. To conclude, adaptability is the key to leadership success. All generations must empathize and adapt with the changing times and technologies to create chemistry and compatibility between themselves to achieve personal and professional growth, and to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.
It is rightly said, “A new broom sweeps better. But an old broom knows all the corners.”
“I don't need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation.” ―Billy Graham
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Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
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