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I'm hearing a lot about the generation gap in business; that
young people are not working well with their elders, and there may very well be
a lot of truth in this. Following World War II, the "Greatest Generation" took
over and dominated business like never before. The 50's and 60's were the go-go
years that propelled the American economy. During the 1960s' the "Baby Boomers"
started to rebel and attacked the taboos of the day. Nonetheless, they
eventually acclimated into the corporate cultures and learned from their elders.
But a generational split occurred during the 1980's and 90's, and I attribute it
to two reasons:
First, when the PC was introduced in the 1980's a new
generation of younger workers were introduced to program and maintain them, A
split then occurred in the Information Technology field whereby the "old guys"
took care of the mainframes and the "young guys" stood in the opposing camp.
Both thought they were right and wouldn't cooperate, hence the split.
Ironically, both groups were right as we needed both technologies. But
management didn't see this and allowed the division to grow and fester. This
carried over into other parts of the work force where new attitudes challenged
older and more established ones. In other words, technology played a significant
role in the split.
Second, during the cost-cutting and downsizing years of the
1980's and 1990's companies abandoned the mentoring system, whereby older
employees worked with younger people to teach them the business. Without such
mentoring, the younger generation pushed the envelope over how business was
conducted. Hence, the rise of individualism and changes in the workplace such as
dress and social attitudes.
Interestingly, mentoring is starting to experience a
resurgence as companies find it to be an effective approach for developing
employees and promoting teamwork. Mentoring is a good approach for helping the
younger people make the transition into the corporate culture and ultimately
take over the business. It's natural and should be encouraged. Actually, we have
had progressive classes of workers for literally thousands of years, e.g.;
apprentices, intermediaries, and master craftsmen.
The one good thing resulting from the latest talk of
generation gaps in business is that it is forcing companies to rethink social
attitudes in the workplace. Such discussion is inevitable as companies have to
learn to work as a team as opposed to a group of individuals.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field.
He can be reached at
For a listing of Tim's Pet Peeves, click
Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-02-15 14:31:38 in Employee Articles