The headlines often grumble about the generational differences and the problems they create, as well as perpetuate the stereotypes of each generation. One seven-year study found that there’s actually plenty of common ground between the groups, and managers can capitalize on these unities to create a more cohesive workplace. (For more information on the generations and managing them in the workforce, please see our cover story on page 8.)
The Center for Creative Leadership conducted a multiyear survey and came up with the 10 truths about generational conflict.
1. All generations have similar values. Many people think there are enormous differences in values between older and younger people. However, CCL’s research has proven that different generations actually have fairly similar values. “Family” is the value chosen most frequently by people of all generations. Other shared values included integrity, achievement, love, competence, happiness, self-respect, wisdom, balance and responsibility.
Editor’s note: While this shouldn’t be a surprise, we’ve read or heard so much about the “values” differences, it may be hard to believe. But when you dig deeper, those shared values are there, it’s just that the different generations find things like achievement, happiness and balance in very distinctive ways.
2. Trust matters. People of all generations trust the people they work with directly, such as bosses, peers and direct reports, more than they trust their organizations. And people trust their organization more than they trust upper management.
One way our industry can gain more trust of the organization (with Millennials and Generation Z) is to spread a consistent, sincere message about the environmental, psychological and economic benefits of plants.
3. No one really likes change. The stereotype is that older people hate change and younger generations thrive off of it, but these are inaccurate assumptions. In general, people from all generations are uncomfortable with change. Resistance to change has nothing to do with age; it is all about how much one has to gain or lose with the change.
This industry has everything to gain by embracing change, whether it be processes, products or marketing. If there aren’t enough younger generation workers willing to not only consider working in this industry, but staying in it, nurseries will become extinct.
4. Loyalty depends on the context, not on the generation. The study shows that younger generations are no more likely to job-hop than older generations were at the same age. People who are closer to retirement are more likely to want to stay with the same organization for the rest of their working life, and people higher in an organization work more hours than do people lower in the organization.
I don’t totally agree with this assessment, but it does make sense. I don’t think Millennials see job-hopping as being anti-loyal. I think they’re loyal to causes, education and making a difference. And sometimes that means having several jobs in a short period of time.
To hear about the remainder of the “truths,” listen to the CCL podcast here: http://bit.ly/10-generation-truths.