One of the most important things to consider when trying to understand differences in views held by different groups of people, such as cultures, is the common values held by the groups. This certainly applies to understanding differences in generational groups and can be helpful in providing insight into some of the reasons their views in the workplace are not only different but often conflicting.
Baby Boomers are known for their respect for tradition, hard work, and use of soft skills. They typically have patience and are the group that started looking at emotional quotient (EQ) as an important factor in evaluating performance.
Generation X is known for their practicality, openness, and respect for diversity. They are also very curious and like change along with respecting hard work and knowledge.
Millennials look for freedom of information and more general or superficial (i.e. larger breadth of) knowledge rather than detailed expertise in a single area. They are success oriented and creative.
Generation Z has grown up with rapid information access and content search. They live for the present with immediate reactions to everything. They also tend to be initiators.
We see a constant increase in diversity with each generation which adds to the variety in ideas and creativity. We also see an accelerating speed of access to information with each generation which allows each successive group to have more information available faster but decreases their requirement to learn and comprehend details. This has led to quicker decision making with less problem solving associated with it. This leads to more trial and error approaches.
When you put these things and many other differences together, you can begin to see some of the sources of misunderstandings between generations. For example, why older generations believe younger workers don’t think through solutions before reacting. And on the other side, why younger generations accuse older workers of taking too much time to analyze before making decisions. When each individual takes time to understand the values and the approach of the person who has a different perspective, they are more likely to reach a point where they can agree on an approach that considers all views.
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