Different generations – clash of mind set and attitude

With people from different generations working together, there is an inevitable clash of mindset and attitude.

Age demands respect and this is not limited to just the domestic and social scenario; it extends itself to the corporate sector as well. During the good old days, age was directly proportionate to the seniority of an individual in the company. However, with globalization being the buzz word the dynamics seem to be fast changing.

Today it’s all about performance and skill sets, and not just experience. New ideas flexibility open mindset and quick learning are valued. Factors like the changing economy respective changes in HR policies, mergers and acquisitions etc have also played a key role in change in the rules of the game. And being the rules of the game be warned as these rules get rewritten everyday. Consequently today, many younger professionals or even fresh graduates overtake veterans in the rat race.

The resulting palpable gap between older professionals and our Gen X often becomes a complex state of affairs when it comes to business growth. Each group comes with a conflicting set of ideas and values, and thus striking the balance becomes extremely difficult. You have to be sensitive and accept each other words both generations should approach each other with an open mindset says a 32 year old NP who administers a managerial position in a public sector unit speaking about his experience with a 48 year old junior. Initially it was difficult to work with this gentleman who was adamant on doing certain things in a particular way. After being a part of the system for almost two decades, it is not reasonable to expect him to change at once either. It was difficult to get him to adopt new methodologies of executing certain tasks more effectively.

54 year old Mr.R who is a government servant, does not seem to be averse to change or learning. His concern revolves around the efficiency level of young professionals. Young professionals step in with bookish knowledge. A degree from a leading institute does not make one efficient manager or even a professional for that matter. There are certain lessons that have to be learnt on the job. Therefore, when an impulsive 20 year old walks in and decides to turn the tables upside down on the basis of a few certificates s/he may have acquired, it is difficult to accept it.

Egos and stereotypes to be the two main causes of the clash between the generations. While Gen X believes that their out of the box ideas can bring about a revolution overnight, experienced professionals beg to differ as they perceive young professionals as inexperienced overconfident and impetuous and therefore choose to stick to the age old practice of the good old days. However, the irony lies in the fact that both groups stick to their respective principles in the best interest of the organization, not realizing that the arising friction could actually lead to counter productivity.

Bridging the generation gap is important to ensure a smooth functioning of the team. Listed below are a few pointers that might help in ironing the creases.

Be accommodative: To begin with, do not typecast an individual and do not let ego govern, advices who works as an in house career counselor with financial solutions firm. It’s important to be accommodative. Neither of the groups are evil, nor is anyone at work to please the other. It’s important to look at each other as colleagues and try to be accommodative of new ideas and work in sync wit each other. At times HR initiatives like team building activities or a weekend outings also help break the ice.

Effective communication helps resolve most differences. Whenever you are in a conflicting situation, it’s best to talk it out. Each generation comes with its own distinct attitude. Thus learning to communicate keeping in mind this distinction is half the battle won. Understand the need of the hour and arrive at a judicious conclusion; it has to be a conclusion that will help accomplish the task effectively and not one that will massage your ego further.

Each one has some inherent strengths and weaknesses and it is wise to benefit from each other’s strengths. If the lessons of experience can help solve a problem, why not adopt it. Or on the other hand, if there is a young professional who can tackle business much more effectively why not appreciate it?

Respect: Respecting the people you work with helps keep the boat sailing steadily. Do not look down upon seniors as patronizing old fashioned morons or young professionals as the aggressive lot. As we wind up, learn to see through the negatives and respect their positive qualities.