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April 23, 2007

e-book review: Generational Diversity in the Workplace


Young & Old, Let's Get it On!
Originally uploaded by AlphaTangoBravo.

When Jamie sent me a copy of his new e-book to review, I had to chuckle at the title -- it was a moment of personal irony.

Generational Diversity in the Workplace:
Hype Won't Get You Results

You see, HYPE is the name of a coalition-type project I'm working on through my employer with some other associations to engage younger people in the community. It stands for Helping Young Professionals Engage. Heh. I hope HYPE will get us results. In fact, it appears that it is already getting results.

Putting aside the title, I found Jamie's e-book to be an extremely helpful summary of the issues surrounding generations in the workplace and in society at large. Jamie begins with a brief but meaningful discussion of the four generations currently in the workplace, and spends a good amount of time explaining the different spans offered up by various generational scholars. This was enormously helpful, because we so often see widely different spans put forward by the authors and speakers whom we read and listen to.

He rightly warns his readers against the generational stereotyping that is so prevalent in the workplace as a result of the same being promulgated in professional development literature and seminars. Realize that people are either like their generational personality, or they're not, and the only way to discover their true personality is to engage them in conversation, he asserts. He also encourages readers to consider that peoples' personalities may be just as much due to their life stage as their generation. For example, people in their sixties, no matter their generation, will be more likely to feel a need for stability than the population at large. Stability is not more of a need for any particular generation, but is more a function of one's age.

Notter then guides his readers through three different workplace applications for the knowledge he uncovers in the first section: Products and Services, Systems and Processes, and Staff Conflict. In all three areas, he implores his readers to remember that some people are like their generational personality, and some are not. Expecting an entire generation, or even a majority, to respond favorably to your well-researched tactics is folly. Being constantly flexible and adaptive is a better course.

He concludes with a call to rethink the way we approach generational diversity by committing ourselves to increasing our capacity to acquire knowledge about generations, have meaningful conversations about what we're learning, and exercise leadership in a way that responds to the challenges posed by the mingling of generations in our workplace.

Jamie's e-book is concise, to the point, and challenging. This e-book is brief enough to ask your entire management and/or leadership team to read and discuss at an upcoming meeting, and it will help spur the kinds of questions and conversations that are so desperately needed in the workplace. It runs 60 pages, and is available at lulu.com for $5. Money well spent.

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2 comments:

Jamie Notter said...

You rock! Thanks for the kind words, Ben.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

np, J-Nott!