Module 02 Journal Reflection

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This module, for your 1-page journal entry, consider the profiles of each of the four generations and share how these profiles apply to your generation. Explain how and why they do or do not apply. How may the characteristics of your generation affect how you are managed in the workplace?

In addition, share one or two strategies that you may try in a real-life work situation to respond to generational differences.

 

 


Each generation has had experiences (for example, the Traditionalists experienced the Depression, while Generation Y grew up with computers) which influenced their perspectives.

Each generation's unique experiences led to unique perspectives and expectations in the workplace. However, many times these perspectives and expectations are contradictory to those of the other generations. This type of diversity is often overlooked in standard definitions of diversity, but it does present a very real challenge to the profitability of a business when it is not handled well. This is why we are starting out with age as the first diversity characteristic we explore. Age is also a very interesting characteristic, because not only is it one that is encountered in most families and social circles, but it is also something that everyone, regardless of their other unique characteristics, experiences in its different stages.

Historical and other influences on each generation will change as time progresses, but there will always be a discrepancy between the perspectives of the old and the young, whether it is due to experience, culture, environment, or a myriad of other factors. This makes age a very important identity characteristic to study in the context of managing a diverse workforce.

Why? Because in order to best manage these generations, a manager must be able to fluidly respond to each group with a style that best engages them to do work at their full potential.

The older generations some Traditionalists and an especially large section of the Baby Boomers are slowly retiring and moving out of the workplace. This requires companies to begin to create transition programs where these individuals can effectively train and mentor the next generations, while at the same time planning for their own retirement. It also requires managers who are fluent in generational differences to help make these transitions a positive experience for the employees as well as for the company.

In addition, retirement concerns may cause employers to think twice about hiring older workers. However, since age is a category protected from employment discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it takes educated and aware managers to recognize the benefits these employees can offer the organization when they are managed well. A real sensitivity to age-related matters is necessary for managers in order to both engage and support every generation in the workplace.

 

 


One of the interesting things to consider when speaking of generational differences is the fact that these vary outside of the United States, as well as across different groups within the United States. For example, newer immigrants to this country have a new layer put over their generational differences; labels such as "first generation," "second generation," and "third generation," as applied to recent immigrants also refer to the length of time spent by that family in the United States. Those kinds of generations have very different experiences than those whose families immigrated to the U.S. much earlier. Also, many of these generations, such as those groups still struggling out of slavery, segregation, and discrimination, may also have very different perspectives on the major sociopolitical events that are said to influence each of the generations.

Another U.S. group that may have experienced these generational profiles differently consists of those in the lower socioeconomic brackets. The Depression of the 1920s and 1930s hit these classes much worse than the others, and because of the cycle of poverty, many of the technological experiences may not be accessible to these groups, nor were many of the benefits of having parents who were well-off like the profile of the Traditionalists.

In addition, the unique historical events experienced by different generations of U.S. Americans may not be experienced the same by those same generational groups outside of the United States. The Depression was experienced differently in Russia and in China, and access to advanced technology in many countries is still limited by economics. Often, political events, music, the popular media, etc. may bond a generation together who may otherwise have nothing in common across social and cultural borders.

Thus it also becomes important to investigate different cultures and their interactions with age in order to better understand generational differences. For example, having a good understanding of the (Asian) Indian joint family structure may better explain the attitudes of elders toward those who are younger than the relationship between a Traditionalist and a Baby Boomer. The Indian cultural norm is to provide respect to elders and not to argue with their opinions at all, while a Baby Boomer might be more comfortable stating his or her opinions clearly and directly to the Traditionalist. Management styles would thus have to adapt to generational differences based not only on the age but also with the culture of the individual being managed.

Given all this information, try to craft a personal response to the following question: How would you adjust your management style for the different generations, understanding that these profiles would vary across cultural situations? You may benefit from researching this on your own.

 

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