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Thoughts on HR, Leadership, Learning, Work, Life, and the balance between. Oh & maybe a lil golf in there too!

Generational Argument: Get over it

The following post I wrote appeared on Sarah White’s blog in February of 2009 . I am posting it on my blog for 2 reasons. (1) To keep an archive of what I have written and (2) to promote Sarah’s awesomeness. She is a cool cat with lots great insight. She also happens to be the Chief Strategy Officer at HRMDirect, a great SaaS software suite that helps companies manage Recruiting, Onboarding & Performance Management, basically the life cycle of their Talent Management process. Check them out!

Why the Generational Conversation is Getting Old

So this is has been a loaded topic since Christ was born. Since Darwin and the Catholic Church stopped talking to one another. It has been battled over since the thousands of soldiers came home from World War II. And yet again when Pensions and 401K’s were dumped on the employee to manage. OK, maybe none of this true. Maybe it is all ludicrous but at the same time – to me – that is the way I feel about the argument on differences in generations. From the way we comb our hair to how we interact and where and when we have conversations. The generational topic has always been loaded. Filled with opinions and perspectives that are both valid and ludicrous.

Gap Images

First a short series of sporadic definitions (more like opinions which change from person to person) on each generation:

Baby Boomer

Generation Jones

Generation X

Generation Y

So what does all this mean? If you look closely at each definition as describe by the oh-so-always accurate Wikipedia what they basically say is that we are different. I argue we are not, that it is only the context in which we do things and sometimes the environment in which we do them. People could argue that exposure to technology and information, early career versus lots of experience. Even the old military-style-of-“Yes Sir and Yes Mam” of working relationship could be argued but really why even argue. Because if we are so different, will we never agree?

It's all about CONTEXT

So this is why we say – STOOPPPPP!!!

-       Everyone has something to say but no one will agree: so to follow the quote that I love by Bill Cosby – “I don’t know the secret to success but I do know the key to failure… trying to please everyone.” I don’t think you can please anyone in this issue. Period.

-       For some it’s more than just a conversation: Let’s face it, there are those that live and breathe the argument. They make a case, study statistics and will never change their minds.

-       Depth Perception: Some, no matter how hard you try, will never see another side.

-       Get over yourself and the differences: I get the fact we need to understand what makes us different in order to interact and see how we can best move towards a goal. I also understand that there are differences, but come on, why do we focus so much on the differences when we could look more at the similarities?

-       I am different than you: But isn’t everyone. At one point in all of our careers we have questioned the position, the company, the people and even our personal direction.

Most of the arguments are me versus you.

-       If you want to cry there are better things to cry about: In a time we have mass world disasters and wars, famine, job losses and business inability or unwillingness to be innovative, why in the heck are we having this lengthy conversation.

-       I work harder and longer then you: We all work hard and long depending on who we work for whether we love our jobs or hate them. We are also lazy and don’t do anything sometimes. Does that make me any less committed then you?

-       It’s not about differences or generations. It’s about CONTEXT: Everyone likes music; I may like Hip Hop and Country while you enjoy Heavy Metal and Opera. But hell, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennial’s we all like the Beatles! So let’s all get in one room and “come together, right now…”

Beatles - Come Together

So what are we for and what are we against?

I am not against having the conversation at all. For some it can be enlightening and a learning experience. However, for many this subject is like politics or religion. Once you are in the sites of a sniper looking for death, you might as well give your life up because you will be trapped behind their cross hairs.


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