Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Generational Garble

"53% of white collar workers complain about a sense of entitlement among colleagues under 30."

Tamara Erickson, "Don't Treat Them Like Baby Boomers," Business Week, August 25-September 1.

In Nonprofit Leadership I share some of my father's "knowledge worker" lessons and blues passed down from his long career at Bell Labs, now Lucent. One challenge I didn't write about was his humorous complaints about how he had to handle the "baby boomers" with kid gloves.

Here is another profound observation that, in my experience managing all sorts of people, would apply to most of them:

"So, what Xers want...are jobs that offer a variety of career paths and allow them to gain fresh, marketable skills, build a strong network of contacts, and put money in the bank."

Who doesn't this statement about job priorities fit looking across generations, gender, and income groups.

I'm not saying that "generational" analysis is of no use. It is useful as an indicator of what's new, how the environment has changed, and new expectations and hopes. Things like flexibility or networking or technology. But don't we all experience some of these same environmental changes, faster or slower, enthusiastically or reluctantly.

And doesn't every generation complain about how hard they had it?


SLO said...

Agreed. I think what is often discussed as generational difference is, in actuality, a particular segment of corporate American waking up to the fact that there is a great deal of diversity in what motivates individuals to work and how they choose an employer. I have a hard time believing that there weren't just as many Boomers twenty years ago who were concerned with money or work-life balance or being able to dress as they pleased as there are Xers today.

Also: Gen X? I thought that ship had sailed. Isn't the hip new intergenerational dialogue focused on Millenials?

Bob Giloth said...

I knew there was something missing in that article -- no mention of Millenials. Business Week apparently is concerned about yestereday's workplace