retail news in context, analysis with attitude

From the New York Times:

"For the first time, five distinct generations of employees - traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials and Generation Zers - coexist in the workplace, all gathering around the same water cooler or washing their dishes (or leaving them for someone else to wash) in the same communal office sink.

"In 2018, more than 4 percent of Americans age 85 or older were still working; the millennial generation makes up about half of the American work force. The culture clash rooted in the vast age differences among colleagues — who in some industries, like retail or service, can be competing for the same jobs — is amplified by young people arriving with a digital skill set that their managers often need but might not have.

"Across industries, hiring managers and recruiters have had to fine-tune their strategies to attract a new hiring pool: both because of the sheer number of potential workers and because no one else can figure out how to embed a GIF."

It gets complicated.  "Growing up after - or through - the Great Depression and World War II made traditionalists comfortable with sacrifice, hard work, rules and authority; baby boomers were likely to privilege their careers above all else, competing for the big title and the corner office, leaving their personal lives at the door. Next came the 65 million people in Generation X, latchkey kids who came of age during the 24-hour news cycle and were disenchanted because of it. Boomers raised millennials, who were coddled by open communication, collaboration and casualness; they love team meetings, regular feedback and calling parents by their first names. Xers are raising tech-savvy Zers, who are pragmatic, driven and competitive digital natives - which is to say they’re on Snapchat, not Facebook."

So, faced with generational crises, when all these people have to work together on the same project, who ya gonna call?

According to the Times, generational consultants.

The story describes generational consultants as "the astrologers of the workplace: making broad assessments of a person - and millions like them -  based on when they were born and advising hiring managers and human resources accordingly."

You can read more about these consultants here.

KC's View:

Reading this story, I've never been so happy that I've spent most of the last 25 years - and continue to spend - my worklife as a writer.  Which is to say, essentially by myself.

I like working with people, and spending time with people, but managing all these different groups and habits and expectations seems utterly exhausting.

The thing is, what seems to bind all these groups together is a desire to be respected … but the ways in which they want that respect to be  shown can vary wildly.  It seems to be that the one thing you can't do is assign the same  motives to everyone or have the same expectations and reward structures for everyone.  At least, you can't if you want to manage people.

What you can expect is that they'll get the job done, and will do it well.  It is just that everybody travels a different road to get there, and it is managerial and leadership malpractice to expect otherwise.