Managing with Generations X and Y: Communication, Conflict and RewardsChantal Westgate & Suzanne GagnonDesautels Faculty of Management La fin d'une génération: les baby-boomers à la retraite The End of a Generation: Baby Boomers into Retirement
In our private lives, generational diversity plays an important role….
We are used to living with generational diversity. Why, then, should it be a problem for life in organizations?
1. There are now FOUR generations in many organizations :‘war for talent’, plus people are working longer… 2. The four have different life histories & to some extent, different attitudes towards work, careers, success 3. Seniority, hierarchy and inequality no longer define the way we work in many cases 4. With group differences comes the potential for conflict – judgmental attitudes, stereotyping, ‘in-group/out-group’ behaviour
The Challenges and Promise of Working with Gen X and Y • The different generations • Communication, Conflicts and Rewards • How can you help build collaboration across the generations?
Generational Differences • How we view the world is shaped in part by watershed events and conditions that each of us experience during our formative years. • Generation of origin is one aspect of diversity. • Helps determine individual values, motivators and needs, in much the same way as culture, gender.
The Generations 1 - ‘Greatest’ or Silent Generation/Veterans (born 1922-1945) 2 - Baby Boomers (born 1946-60’s) 3 - Generation X (born 1960’s-1980) 4 - Generation Y/Echo/Nexters (born 1980-2000) Representation in the room? Key common life events that distinguish each group?
‘Greatest Generation’: some key influences The Great Depression The New Deal World War II The Holocaust Urbanization Rural Electrification Radio and the movies
Baby Boomers: some key influences • Economic Boom • Women’s Liberation • Trudeaumania • Rise in Civil Rights Activism • Quiet Revolution • Rock & Roll • Race to Space • Vietnam War • Watergate
Gen X: some key influences Demolition of the Berlin Wall 24-hour live remote news coverage Dot-com economy Hi-tech start-ups Challenger disaster Abundant economy in the 80s; recession early 90s
Gen Y: some key influences • Internet – communications explosion • Y2K • Iraq War • Columbine Shootings • September 11th • Corporate Scandals, e.g. Enron • Video Games • Instant messaging + + + • Global awareness • Volume of information available
Each generation can be associated with different values, assets, liabilities and motivators for the workplace
Greatest Generation • Core Values: dedicated, disciplined, respectful of authority, prefer hierarchy, sense of personal organization • Assets: stable, loyal, detail-oriented, thorough, hard working • Liabilities: discomfort with conflict, coping with ambiguity, reluctance to buck the system • Motivators: being valued for their experience, wisdom, knowledge • Leadership Style: more directive, command/control, make the decisions and delegate
Baby Boomers(born 1946-1964) • Core Values: optimism, teamwork, personal gratification, growth, youth, hard work, involvement, prestige and status • Assets: service oriented, willingness to go the extra-mile, desire to please, team spirit, good working relationships • Liabilities: conflict avoidance, process over goals, sensitivity to feedback, judgmental, self-centered [The Me Generation] • Motivators: being valued for their unique contributions; personal achievement, wealth acquisition • Leadership Style: collegial, consensual, passionate, concerned about fairness but may also be directive or lack supervision skills • -
Gen Xers (born 1960-1980) • Core Values: balance work and home, self-reliant, casual about authority, pragmatic, egalitarian, global awareness • Assets: adaptable, technological, independent, voracious learners, financially savvy, not intimidated by authority, team players • Liabilities: impatient, poor people skills, cynical, low expectations about job security, less willing to make personal sacrifices at work • Motivators: new technology and doing it by their own rules • Leadership Style: less comfortable with traditional chain-of-command, bureaucracy, procedures
Gen Y( (born 1980-2000…) • Core Values: sense of civic duty, confidence, achievement, optimism, sociability, street smarts, appreciation for diversity • Assets: multi-tasking, tech savvy, optimistic, tenacity, collective action, want to work closely with senior people • Liabilities: need supervision, cocky, inexperienced with interpersonal issues • Motivators: working with people like themselves, making change happen, goals • Leadership Style: resiliency, combine teamwork ethic of Boomers with tech skills of the Xers and a can-do attitude
Stereotyping Stereotyping = Assigning identical characteristics to any member of a group regardless of his or her individual differences. Can be unconscious. Can lead to bias, prejudice.
Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism = tendency to think one’s own group or race is superior to other groups or races.
Generational Differences: Management Issues Stereotypes of each generation, based on your experience or impressions -- How did you arrive at the stereotypes?
Characteristics of Inter-group Conflict Stereotyping Overvaluation of one’s own group Devaluation of the other group Polarization on issues Distortion of perceptions Escalation
Inter-group Conflict • In-group/out-group dynamics may help explain our tendency to stereotype: We want to feel good about the group we belong to, and one way is to think less well of other groups. • Research shows tendency to see members of own group as individuals….but members of other group as undifferentiated. Can learn to manage stereotyping through conscious awareness and control.
HOW TO COLLABORATE MORE • Get curious – ask questions • Express own concerns unemotionally • Keep to issues on the table and in the present • Take responsibility for your own ‘part’ in conflict • The Platinum Rule rather than Golden Rule (others may not want or value the same things as you…)
Expectancy Theory • Work effort is directed toward behaviors that will lead to desired outcomes • Emphasizes the important role of perceptions of probability that: • One’s effort will lead to ‘performance’; • The performance will lead to a particular outcome; • That theoutcome will be valued. In rewards, look for valued outcomes. Beware that these may differ significantly from your own.
QUIZSome Valued Outcomes • New technology and doing it by their own rules? • Working with people like themselves; making change happen; work to live? • Being valued for their experience and knowledge? • Being valued for their unique contributions; personal achievement; live to work?
Exemplary employers proactively seek generational diversity: Why? Wisdom and experience Fresh ideas and fearlessness Individual skills Need for best talent Reflection of the marketplace (Hankin, Harriet (2004): Boomers and Echoes and Nexters)
HOW TO BUILD COLLABORATION, 2 • Awareness • Adjustment • Long-standing norms and policies allowed to change • Includes face-time expectations, leave, rewards • Meeting challenge of internal equity • Cross-generational mentoring • Nursing, healthcare • Building ties • Multi-age teams, expectations of synergy, mutual respect
Challenges • Recognize groups, see people as individuals. • Manage (your own) resistance to change. • Ensure that segregation and tokenismare minimal, and integration is the principle.