I ran across this study and its presumption that older workers and younger workers will clash is amusing. It’s humorous and a bit sad because a large part of Generation Z assumes that they will be able to self-actualize rather than focus on getting the job done.
I think the article holds some truth since Generation-X types like myself tend to place self-actualization much lower down on the scale of needs. Why? Because many of us, due to demographics, have been behind the 8-ball for much of our working careers. We know that in the end employers value one’s ability to deliver. If one is able to enjoy higher meaning while doing so, is a bonus. It’s not something an employ is in a position to expect.
The research also revealed that Generation Z have high expectations of their own positive impact on the workplace. Most of those surveyed said they will bring exceptional technology skills (72%), new ideas and fresh thinking (63%), and new ways of working (55%). Source: Generation Z set to clash with older workers over communication differences – research | Information Age
Please don’t misunderstand me. I love young people with exceptional technology skills, but I am curious how they would define “fresh thinking”. Is this the perpetual “my generation knows better than the old farts” which has existed since the dawn of time or is there truly a fresh way to think? I have worked with lots of young people and while they bring energy they aren’t that much different than my generation. They are less cynical and less guarded, but generally, as expected, inexperienced regarding life, business, and work.
I liked the idea of being open to new ways of working. Technology created the opportunity for flexibility, but it also is temping to think that technology can allow us to transcend evolutionary biology. We are generally hard wired to want to work in each other’s presence. While remote work or exotic work environments are interesting, our biology compels us to return eventually to face meetings and group interaction.
Lastly, I must end with a comment on the word “clash”. Conflict is unavoidable within any human endeavor, however how power is exercised varies depends on a lot of factors. Firstly, whether one has power to engage in a clash. Secondly, whether one has the ability to leverage power to motivate others to accept your fresh thinking and new ways of working. Thirdly, whether one has the ability to counter the push back, avoidance or the ignoring of the new thinking and ideas.
What I am getting at is that the study comes across with a huge assumption of entitlement to exercise one’s perspective within groups with a variety of generational perspectives. I suspect a clash will occur since Generation-X is one of the most anti-entitlement generations since the 1920’s. I am gracious with young people who believe in entitlement, but I find it naively cute.
I googled “entitlement thinking” and ran across this Generation-Z kid who talked about “Deserving VS Entitlement”. He’s a level headed kid with level headed expectations. I think he’d have good ideas, but also some humility. when approaching work and being in a team. I underlined humility since that is critical to being able to be in a team, lead a team, or exercise one’s fresh ideas and new ways of working. Demands for entitlement are often met with laughter in the workplace. The laughter is usually deserved!