Every generation in the workplace has its gripes about the ones that came before or after them.

It’s pretty normal if you think about it… After all, each cohort will have lived through unique social, cultural, financial and political timelines, which will have shaped their collective values, mind-sets and aspirations.

The buzzword for the last ten years has been Gen Y or ‘Millennials’ – the generation born between 1981 and 1996, who have been labelled ‘needy’, ‘entitled’, ‘hungry-for-feedback’, and obsessed with attaining the perfect ‘work-life’ balance.

These labels have come, typically, from their superiors – Baby Boomers and Generation Xers – who are more accustomed to having defined boundaries in the workplace, hierarchical promotion based on experience and years of service, with minimal feedback on performance.

Millennials arrived at the workplace with grand ambitions, a collaborative nature and the enthusiasm derived from the unlimited, hands-on support they received throughout their childhood and school years.

But they were quickly disappointed to find the workplace would not provide such things, and the resulting intergenerational tensions that erupted have made business headlines over recent years.

Now, there are new kids on the block. Gen Z (born between 1996 and the early 2000s) are joining the workforce, and, more and more, coming under the supervision of Millennial managers.

From the point of view of corporate culture… is this an opportunity or a disaster waiting to happen?

For many Boomer and GenXer veterans, the prospects for cultivating a stable, productive and high-performing work culture seem even more distant, given that the latest generation to enter the office will never have known life before the internet, mobile devices and rapid, bite-sized information delivered casually and immediately.

But from my point of view, as a mentor to teens and young professionals, the Millennial-GenZ combination can benefit an organisation at all levels.

GenZ’s sense of competition will balance Millennials’ collaborative and team-oriented approach, while Generation Z’s ease with rapidly evolving mobile tech, will add to Millennials’ own comfort levels with technology to help the global transition to a truly digital workplace.

Meanwhile, the formative experiences that Millennials have had, learning the more structured, deliberate and critically considered communication favoured by the older generations, will be important in mentoring the GenZ recruits.

Due to their relative closeness in age, it will also be Millennial managers who will be best positioned to convey to GenZers that instant, casually-constructed interactions are ultimately inappropriate for the workplace.

And finally, the high significance that BOTH generations place on authenticity, transparency and social impact will force companies worldwide to look beyond merely meeting goals and expanding market share if they want to survive and thrive in our new professional era…

To work with me personally, please check out the FEARLESS, LIMITLESS or EVOLUTION tracks of my website, and you’ll learn more about my corporate training services, as well as the one-on-one mentoring and workshops for young professionals and teens that I provide.

You may have heard of ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Following on the heels of the First Industrial Revolution (water and steam), the Second Industrial Revolution (electricity), the Third Industrial Revolution (automation, the internet and mass production), the Fourth Industrial Revolution is about the disruption of cyber-physical systems.

It’s been setting off serious discussions at the highest policymaking levels, including at the World Economic Forum, as well as the business schools and sociology departments of universities, irrespective of borders.

International panels of sociology experts, academics, researchers, business executives, bankers, financiers and politicians have analysed the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s significance, with buzzwords including “artificial intelligence”, “driverless cars”, “brain enhancements” “robotics”, “internet of things”, “3D printing” and “gene editing”.

While these sound impressive – and they are – there’s another word that keeps coming up, too.

And that’s ‘employability’.

To keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s relentless technological changes, not to mention the disruption to the ways we do business…

New school and university graduates, young professionals (and their managers) are having to embrace a mind-set of constant learning just to be able to stay viable in the 21st-century workplace.

And the skills that make a young person employable in this fast-evolving, uncertain time, are continuing to diverge from what students are taught by traditional curricula in the classroom or lecture hall.

In fact, the World Economic Forum suggests that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that do not exist yet.

So what are the new aptitudes that will be needed for the brave new world we are all having to navigate?

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills that will be necessary for new graduates and young professionals to demonstrate, and for company managers and Human Resource officers to cultivate and target over the next few years, are:

  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Coordinating with Others
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Service Orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive Flexibility

(And if you want more details on each of these, I have a free infographic you can download here).

In other words, mastering evolving ‘soft skills’ is more vital than ever, and a focus on the purely technical side of aptitudes is not nearly enough to equip the generations entering or collaborating in the workplace.

Or, as the futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler has put it: “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.

Of course, technology and the tsunami of online learning opportunities over recent years have made ongoing education more accessible and available than ever before.

Digital literacy has unleashed a new democracy in growing and continually adding to our knowledge base.

Nevertheless, mastering vital human-to-human interactions is still the domain of a dedicated, hands-on mentor.

And, from where I’m standing, such a role may just turn out to be timeless.

To learn more about my one-on-one coaching and tailored workshops for youth, young professionals and corporate teams, please check out the FEARLESS, LIMITLESS and EVOLUTION tracks of my website.