Understanding generations in the office

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Understanding of different generations and the “gap” between them has many applications in all areas of life, from parents interacting with children, to sales people selling to younger or older clients, to managers who work with teams of people of different ages

The challenge for leaders in all sectors of business and society comes from a clash of the generations: a collision of values, expectations, ambitions, attitudes and behaviours.

In particular, the human factor is increasingly important for maintaining a competitive advantage in business. In virtually every industry, the competitors are becoming indistinguishable on the basis of product or service. What a company sells is becoming less and less of a competitive advantage. Competing companies offer the same stuff at about the same price and quality, to the same people, delivering through similar channels and advertising in the same media using similar techniques. And they even swap staff every few years. Innovation isGenerations not the competitive edge it used to be either. Even if one company comes up with the industry’s “next big thing”, their competitors will copy it within a matter of days (without the R&D costs).

Competitive advantage is therefore found less and less in what a company sells, and more and more in who a company is, and how it sells. In this environment, talent is the primary commodity, and the ability to attract, retain, nurture and motivate talented staff (young and old) is a critical success factor for any company in any industry. It is vital to create an internal environment that allows people to individually and collectively create far more value than they could if they were employed elsewhere.

Generational theory provides a powerful framework for creating such an environment, where multiple generations interact effectively.

Graham Codrington – Generational Theory

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