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Generational Diversity

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With the above observations in mind, let’s look at a few work situations and how one might handle them.

• At annual appraisal time, a manager from the Veterans generation gives out a nice bonus for a project well done. The Generation X employee is ungrateful and says, “Why didn’t I get this six months ago, when the project was completed?” Gen X wants instant gratification, whereas a person in the Veterans generation is happy to get money anytime. The solution here may be for the company to explore reward plans geared to the different generations, or things like monetary rewards and recognition given at the time when it is earned.

• A Generation X manager tells a Boomer he has been working too hard and should take time off to take the family on vacation. Instead of saying thanks, the Boomer replies, “I work to get ahead, to get a promotion, not for a vacation.” The next time that situation comes up, the manager might elect to give this particular employee a bonus, rather than suggest a vacation.

• A top-notch, cross-functional team with individuals from several different generations has been set up to recommend a solution to a nasty manufacturing problem. After a couple of weeks, the manager responsible for the team cannot understand why there is constant bickering and nothing is getting done. If the manager were aware of just one characteristic of each individual relating to communication needs, he or she might understand the stalemate. The Veterans on the team are looking for handwritten notes and direct, specific requests for work to be done. The Boomers do not like to work independently, and they expect to have meetings any time, any place — and it is fine if they are called day or night. Xers do not want to hear about the project outside of work, and don’t dare call them at home. And the Yers don’t want any meetings at all, they only communicate via…...

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