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Clash of the Generations by Valerie M. Grubb

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Chapter 10GENERATIONAL GIVE AND TAKE

There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age—I missed it coming and going.

—J. B. Priestley1

The biggest challenge in a multigenerational workplace is dealing with conflict among the generations. Employees of any age rarely appreciate what other generations have to offer and instead approach each other with preconceived notions about how an employee of a certain age behaves. Baby Boomers think Millennials are know‐it‐alls, Millennials think Baby Boomers have no new ideas, and the members of Generation X believe that no one works as hard as they do and that they are the best leaders of any generation. The old dismiss the young for not having enough experience, while the young dismiss the old for being obsolete. Rather than try to bridge the generational gap, employees tend to hunker down in their respective age silos, which only serves to increase tension in the office among employees of varying ages. No wonder a clash of generations typically ensues.

In order for a multigenerational workplace to be an environment in which people can work effectively and harmoniously, employees (and particularly managers) must set aside any prejudices they have about their coworkers and appreciate all generations for the skills they bring to the office. Otherwise, each interaction will only widen the gap further, thus killing productivity. The first time a Millennial presents an idea and gets “No, we've ...

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