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.