By Laurie ArronFounder of Arron Coaching and TLG Strategic Partner
In my role as an executive coach to Senior Executives and Chiefs of Staff, navigating the diverse generational landscape in today’s workplace is an interesting aspect of my work. I see a tapestry of both differences and similarities, each contributing to the whole picture. It’s not a matter of one aspect outweighing the other; rather, it’s about understanding the intricate blend of both.
The differences are often seen in communication styles. I’ve noticed that the more seasoned professionals might favor formal communication like phone calls, while the younger leaders are more inclined towards digital and casual interactions. Similarly, work preferences shift across generations – views on remote work, work-life integration, and approaches to collaboration show a generational divide. Another striking difference lies in technology adaptation and leadership styles – younger employees often favor a collaborative and inclusive approach, while their older counterparts might lean towards more traditional, authoritative styles.
Yet, amidst these differences, certain core similarities stand out. In my conversations with leaders across generations, I’ve found a universal quest for meaning and purpose in their work. The desire for professional development cuts across all age groups, as does the need for feedback and recognition. These are the pillars that, I believe, support effective leadership and a cohesive workplace.
Through my lens as a coach, the most notable intergenerational challenges often surface between the older cohorts (Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers) and the younger workforce in their 20s. This observation, of course, comes with the understanding that each individual’s experience is unique.
The older generations typically hold traditional workplace values in high regard, emphasizing loyalty and a hierarchical approach. Meanwhile, those in their 20s are usually more aligned with technological advancements, prioritizing flexibility and favoring a less hierarchical workplace. This divergence in perspectives around work style, communication preferences, and leadership approaches can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and even conflicts.
In addressing these challenges, I advocate for open communication, an appreciation of each generation’s unique strengths, and a concerted effort towards a collaborative work environment. It’s about creating a space where these diverse perspectives can coalesce into something greater, benefiting the organization as a whole.