We were fortunate to interview Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay to Be the Boss and the classic Managing Generation X, and Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage Generation Y. I hope you find this excerpt of value.
Can you give us an overview of how the generations differ from each other?
Members of generation X are naturally entrepreneurial; they were raised in an environment that lacked supervision. Therefore, they prefer to work in an unsupervised setting. Members of generation Y tend to need more supervision; they grew up with doting parents, and have always been supervised. Since they have been oversupervised, they typically want to be more independent, but that isn’t necessarily the environment that they thrive in.
How do these differences play out in the workplace?
There are certainly some tricky generational situations as Generation X and Generation Y become leaders and companies are doing things with more of a Boomer mentality.
We are always tracking the big picture, tracking the landscape of human capital management and day to day supervision.
How do you address workplace issues in mixed generation groups?
The funny thing about issues in the workplace is that it is best to put a spotlight on the authentic common ground they share, without which they would not be there. So finding something they all care about and coming up with a solution or short cut is the first step.
I also focus on doing more work better and faster. I often find unnecessary interdependence, which gets people tangled up. We have to rely on, wait, and coordinate; all of these take time. Eliminating these unnecessary interdependencies moves the group closer to the efficiency they are seeking.
What do you think the current rash of layoffs will mean as we move forward? Will companies experience a talent vacuum as the economic tides turn?
Employers certainly have been trying to get more lean and flexible. A primary point has been when it comes to human capital management. There are smaller fixed core groups (on site uninterrupted, exclusive, relatively long term fixed salary employees) and increasingly larger groups of contingent workers (temps, consultants or independent contractors).
As the workforce becomes more fluid, and long term fixed employment becomes less the norm, the downsizing has been happening so quickly.
It will certainly be interesting to watch things unfold as we move forward in the new economy. Thanks for your time, Bruce.
Managing the Generation Mix, co-authored by Bruce Tulgan is highlighted below.