How well we play in groups has changed dramatically over the last century.
If you have not already read the previous articles in this series:
- Multi-Generational Workplace – Are You Ready?
- Communication Style in the Multi-Generational Workplace
- Acquire and Learn Information in the Multi-Generational Workplace
I am a baby boomer born in the mid 1950s to parents of the greatest generation. Both of my parents were raised through the depression, and my father served in World War II.
They grew up in a time when great self reliance was critical. They grew up to believe that, to be successful, you had to be a strong individual. They trained their baby boomer children to be self reliant.
We were raised in school to study hard and rely on oneself. We are the generation who was taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Most of the great corporations of today are run by baby boomers, and their mission statements and values are based on strong individualism.
Group dynamics? What group dynamics? It was all about individual contribution.
Gen X-ers were the children of the silent generation. People of the silent generation were born during the depression or World War II. Birth rates plummeted during the depression and, therefore, the silent generation is very small. The silent generation has very high rates of divorce.
Gen X-ers were therefore the first latch key kids. Many of Generation X raised themselves and learned that, to survive, they had to take care of themselves.
Gen X-ers also first entered the job market in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the concept of a job for life had started to disappear. They were responsible for their careers.
Group dynamics? This generation grew up to be self reliant.
Now let’s look at Generation Y!!
Gen Y-ers are the children of the baby boomer generation.
We did not raise this generation to be strong individualists! We raised them to be good team players!
Look the explosion of youth team sports. We organized summer camps for Generation Y to explore and play with peers.
Public education has been transformed by group learning. We learned that, when you work in groups, productivity increases. Rather interestingly, I am currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (25th Anniversary Edition), and Stephen Covey expounds on the value of groups working together for a win-win solution.
Gen Y-ers are highly social creatures. How often have you seen a restaurant with 10-20 twenty somethings gathered around the table? This is the generation that created Facebook!
Group Dynamics in the Workplace
Generation Y is unlike either of the previous generations. They function extremely well in teams. The perform in teams much better than either of the previous generations. In fact, they thrive in group environments.
When I started my career I aspired to have an office for myself. That was a sign of achievement.
Generation Y does not want a big corner office. They want to make a difference along with their peers!
What does your workplace look like? It is individualistic, group oriented, or something in between?
Think about this – half of the workforce will come from Generation Y by 2020!
Will the group dynamics of your organization attract or repel Gen Y-ers?
Please read the rest of the Multi-Generational Workplace Series.
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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist