Too Cool for School
Back in the early nineties a major shift happened in business culture. Generation X showed up and brought something with them: Attitude. A "me first" attitude.
An attitude that said, "I don't play the games my parents did when they worked for you. As a matter of fact, I work for me first, then you." Baby Boomers who were witness to this phenomenon were shocked, stunned and dismayed by such a brash and bold stand. How dare these freshmen tell the upper classmen how things were going to go around here? After all, Boomers rule the School.
One thing the baby boomer upper classmen didn't realize at the time was that Gen X brought a powerful skill with them. An understanding of computer technology. And they knew how to use it. Most baby boomers at the time had very limited computer savvy. For many, it was like meeting aliens from another planet. Those with some computer exposure in college had learned how to create a computer program by punching hundreds of IBM cards. Those cards were then fed into the one and only computer serving the entire campus and if you didn't drop them from the box to the floor and if you didn't make a key punch error, the program would run. If the program was successful, then it would print out a document composed of 0's and 1's arranged in some binary code that I still don't understand.
Gen X had almost grown up with computers. To them computers had become almost as common as the telephone. They understood the technology and they knew how to develop software that would allow one to work faster and with improved productivity. Along the way they had lost something that Baby Boomers still harbored at the time, fear of technology.
Advanced computer savvy created employment demand. That demand coupled with Gen X's me-first attitude simply eliminated any concerns they may have had toward unemployment. If they had a job or boss they didn't like, they just left and found another job. This was considered quite radical in the job market at the time. Employers shunned candidates who had "streaky" employment histories. The upper classmen Baby Boomers had been taught that you were defined by what you do. If one changed jobs frequently, you were a job-hopper. You were unstable and couldn't be depended upon. There must be something wrong with this person.
This is just one simple example of many things that contributed to a huge cultural clash attributed to differences in work ethic and social norms within the workplace.
That was then. This is now.
This clash continues as Gen X now moves into a sophomore role. Flash to the new millennium - There is a new freshmen class on campus. They're called Generation Y. Stand by because their all bright and shiny with high expectations of themselves and those they work with. If you are part of this generation you already know that things just don't happen fast enough for you. These twenty-something's believe they can do anything and are out to prove it.
No matter what generation defines you or you don't like labels at all, you have to admit that there are more misunderstandings and miscommunications now simply because we are not often on the same page for the beginning. Never before have we experienced such diversity within work ethics, beliefs and more.
The good news is that a lot of really good work has been done to help identify on-the-job generational differences. Join me for the "Generations in Change" presentation and WE will define our own differences as a group and have a lot of fun doing it. Once we become aware of these differences, an understanding takes place and new perspectives are gained.
We can then find synergy among the things we have in common. Once we achieve synergy, we can all become "Too Cool for School."