Generational Differences In The Workplace

Generational differences can affect a business in many ways.  One of the biggest issues with a multigenerational team is unrealistic expectations due to lack of understanding of each other’s views.  People tend to believe that everyone should think the same way they do as the following situation that occurred in our medical office a few years illustrates.

One day the Baby Boomer physician asked Gen Y assistant for the phone book.  The assistant replied, “I don’t think we have one.”  The physician couldn’t believe that the office didn’t have a phone book and questioned, “How can we run a business without a phone book?”  Gen Y simply replied, “We Google what we need.”  This did not sit well with the Boomer physician who asked the assistant to have six phone books delivered to the office, one for each workstation.  Gen Z was surprised because they had never even looked at one before, and the rest of the staff just shook their heads.  Of course, only one phone book was needed, but Dr. Boomer felt everyone should do things his way.  Did things change? No.  Everyone else in the office continued to Google because it was faster and more efficient.  After thinking about the situation Dr. Boomer was able to laugh with the staff over his insistence on the books and how his asking them to move back in time was pretty silly.

Fortunately, this situation worked out well and the office staff still laughs about it when generational differences occur in the office.  The experience opened a way for further discussions about generational issues as they arise.

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