Every generation has been grumbling about the same thing for eons: The younger generation. Here’s a sampling of what some of the complaints in the workplace might sound like these days:
- “Used to be that when I needed something done, I’d ask someone face-to-face.”
- “I remember the days when people started a conversation, they finished the conversation.”
- “Once upon a time, people would come talk to me rather than shoot me an instant message.”
Frustration with Younger Coworkers
Many professionals feel there is acute tension between generations. “I hired a recruiter who is 28 years old,” explains one 45-year-old senior HR generalist from the Pacific Northwest. “Since arriving, my colleagues and I have noticed that he frequently bypasses the chain of command to do what he thinks needs to be done. Although we meet with him to discuss the importance of communicating regularly through the proper channels, it’s as if he just doesn’t get it…. Oftentimes, he’ll up and leave right in the middle of a discussion after coming to me for information. It’s like he’s got what he needed out of the meeting and leaves, because he doesn’t see a need to be there anymore. What he doesn’t see is how insulted I feel by him leaving like that.”
Indeed, those in their 30s and older can find their younger counterparts frustrating to deal with. These more seasoned workers often lament younger workers’ tendency to be curt, blunt, irreverent and impersonal.
Too Much Information
But the tension between generations goes both ways. David Chermak is a 31 year-old cost accountant. Working in the manufacturing industry, he reports that his team, comprised of Baby Boomers, has a tendency to “overexplain” concepts when troubleshooting issues.
“Even very specific questions seem to require long, drawn-out answers,” laments Chermak. “It is like asking a cook if there is rosemary in the chicken, and the answer not only encompasses the entire recipe but also what store has the best price on chicken, why white meat is better than dark, and explains how buying locally produced food saves fossil fuels — oh and yes, there is rosemary.”
Our workplaces are changing. Technology has revolutionized the workplace. The younger generation, particularly Generation Y (born 1977 to 1989), thrives in a fast-paced technological world. They grew up with nanny cams, cell phones, video games, voice mail, PCs and the Internet. Their constant exposure to technology has even caused some to speculate that their brains have developed differently. The familiarity of so many different technological media has enabled them to process a huge amount of information in a short amount of time. Sometimes referred to as the “CNN Generation,” this group of workers often only want bits and pieces of information — the parts important to them — to accomplish their tasks. In some circumstances, these individuals may never have learned effective face-to-face interpersonal communication skills, due to the fact that so much of their social interaction has been over instant/text messaging, cell phones and email.
Adapting to a Project-Based Workplace
As technology continues to be integrated into the workplace, outside factors also are impacting the way generations communicate. In the “Generational Shift, What We Saw at the Workplace Revolution” whitepaper released by Rainmakerthinking in 2003, one of the primary findings was that the employer-employee relationship has become more project-based, as opposed to the traditional chain-of-command structure. This phenomenon resulted from the mass layoffs, downsizings and offshoring that occurred in the 1990s. As businesses stepped into a more volatile global economy, they adopted the do-more-with-less mantra and began using a more short-term approach to managing business. Effective communication is imperative as businesses shift to this new fast-paced paradigm. Striking a balance with both generations can be difficult. Younger generations are geared to working in a fast-paced environment and getting information on a whim. Short, abrupt communication may occur and leave out important details that others may need to know in order to provide adequate responses. Older generations may overinform, causing confusion or extra work in sifting out pertinent information.
There is no doubt that words, actions and sometimes behavior can be misconstrued in the workplace and even across generations. Business and human resources professionals need to be able to recognize how these changes are impacting the work environment and the relationships within them. Understanding what makes each generation unique is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing employees.
Copyright 2006 – Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.
Hiring Hacks from an Optometry Recruiter (Video)
Apr 12, 2022
What is the best way to present your opportunity to a candidate? How do you set your practice or opportunity apart from others in the job market? What needs to be included in ...
Hiring Master Tip: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Nov 3, 2021
As the largest and most successful Optometry and Ophthalmology recruiting firm in the country, we know a thing or two when it comes to growing your practice. In short, we've o...
Where Are All the Optometrists and Ophthalmologists?
Oct 27, 2021
The market for Optometry and Ophthalmology talent has always been competitive. Several factors have combined to make what was already a tight market even more challenging. T...
The One That Got Away
Jun 23, 2021
You thought your staffing issue was solved. You felt you had the right fit, you were confident the job offer was solid, you made the offer, and yet, somehow, they took another...
Are You Ready for What’s Next?
Mar 24, 2021
Everyone is trying to understand what’s coming next in a post-COVID-19 world. While we have no special foresight into the future of the pandemic, we can tell you what we hav...
The Right Questions to Ask When You Meet a Candidate
Jun 16, 2020
There is a common perception that interviews are about putting the best face forward for both the practice and the potential employee. While it is natural to want to make a go...
Planning Ahead – Hiring for the Future of Your Practice
Apr 22, 2020
With some states in the beginning stages of lifting isolation restrictions and making small, careful steps toward a new normal after the COVID-19 crisis, many of the practice ...
Interview Logistics 101: Putting a Candidate at Ease
Jan 21, 2020
You think you’ve found a candidate who might just be the perfect fit and you’re looking forward to a great interview. However, your candidate could have a flight delay on ...
Ten Great Quotes to Inspire You to Find Your Next Superstar Associate
Jan 13, 2020
“Hire people who are smarter than you are—whose talents surpass yours—and give them opportunities for growth. It's the smart thing to do and it is a sign of high persona...
New Year. New Hire?
Jan 2, 2020
The big ball has dropped. The champagne has popped. The calendar page has turned. A lot of the planning for 2020 has probably already taken place. Now it’s time to star...