A few weeks ago I wrote about the demise of generational differences and my belief that social media is helping to bridge the age gap. My take on it is that on social media sites, age does not matter as much as long as you are interacting, contributing solid facts, and sharing your opinion in a professional manner. Why can’t it be like that in the workplace? I said we should spend more time focusing on how individuals can work better together than we do on the reasons generational differences keep us apart.
There were so many well thought out comments after my post and many more conversations as well. Some of the key takeaways were:
- Focus on the quality of the work, not the age of the employee.
- Stay relevant no matter what your age. Read, network, share ideas.
- Generational stereotyping is no better than other kinds of stereotypes. It alienates people and leads to less diverse teams.
- The experience you bring to the table is far more important than the age on your driver’s license.
- Age is not the benchmark we identify ourselves with; we use name, job, company, etc.
- Get to know what works best for individuals, not their generation.
- Regardless of age, we should all focus on learning more about technology.
- Attempting to place people into categories does not improve team building or collaboration. There is no black and white in HR- just gray.
We will never be able to fully understand the events that shape behaviors of people born in a different generation because we did not live through those events. Why not agree that although differences exist, we must not focus on them. Instead, focus on similarities in the values and behaviors that we share. That is what will bind strong teams and build more productive workplaces.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post that will explore work/life “blend” and what that means to people from different generations. I’m hoping we’ll see that there are quite a few similarities in our thoughts on the subject, and that we’ll be able to learn from any of our differences. Guest bloggers on the post will be Eric Winegardner, Beth Carvin, and Bill Boorman.
I don’t experience the generational differences as such – must be the diplomatic Libran within. 😉
And the fact that most of our firm are fairly close in age, so we get each other’s cultural context.
Social media creates a sort of ageless anonymity for the most part for those who listen and participate without offending, unless you’re on MySpace (egads).
HR has to be the diplomatic realist with an open door, team-building facilitation and a keen eye on social media and other networking technologies.
I’ve done some research on generations within nursing, contrasting GenX and Boomers http://tinyurl.com/yfcettx
The main thing is that nurses are more alike than different when asking about the important experiences at work.
The differences tend to reflect some differences in values–younger nurses are less inclined to self-sacrifice at work and more committed to a sustainable lifestyle.
Also, the power of older nurses is significant. Hospitals are now a world designed by boomers and reflecting their values primarily. Greater accommodation for distinct lifestyles and work values is essential for a growing and vibrant health care workforce.