Working relationships across generations

Source: Eilene Zimmerman, The New York Times

Q. As an older worker, you sometimes find it frustrating to work with and manage people who are in their 20s. Is it you or is it them? A. It’s both. With four generations in the workplace, it should be no surprise that miscommunications and misunderstandings occur there. People are defined by the social and historical events they experienced growing up and that shaped them as young adults, says Jean M. Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of “Generation Me.” To some degree, what a baby boomer (born 1946-1964) or a member of Generation X (born 1965-1981) expected when entering the work force is very different from what the people in Generation Y, also known as millennials (roughly 1982- 1992), now expect, says Professor Twenge. Then there is the simple fact that people in the workplace are at different stages of their lives. “Young people may be different from older people today, but they may well become more like them tomorrow, once they themselves age,” notes a report on Generation Y from Pew Research.

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