Leadership - Jul 15, 2021

The generational mix – How to reconcile old values with new demands.

As it’s pretty tough to find qualified employees, many companies set great store in training, developing and promoting young talents meaning that a lot of trainees find themselves in specialist or leadership roles within a very short period of time. How do experienced employees feel about this and how do we manage to create the best framework conditions for all generations?

written by

Managing Director

E-Mail: tilo.mueller@bechtle.com

The corona pandemic has made working from home the rule in many companies. But there will be colleagues working at the company for many years who remember a different time. Back then, the working day started and ended with clocking in and out and even smoking breaks were documented down to the last second. The heads of department had a beady eye on their employees and even the slightest distraction was met with an angry glare. And it was unthinkable for someone to use a private smartphone to send a quick message to sort out picking up the kids. And at the same time unimaginable in today's times! 

Despite that, there are still plenty of colleague whose opinions have been shaped by such attitudes over decades. I’m sure there were plenty of things that were pretty good back in the day, but now we have the young and dynamic Generations X, Y and Z who want maximum freedom, individual responsibility and flexible working hours. Instead of clocking in, agile working and work-life balance are the terms on everyone’s lips. While there are some people who would like to go back to the days of the time-punch machine, others are wondering why on earth they have to make the trip into the office. It’s up to the leaders to create the perfect framework conditions for every generation to work together well.

But what about the old hands? I don’t think using terms like “old” or “too young” is very helpful. Some have a huge amount of life experiences and professional knowledge to fall back on, while others approach new projects and challenges without the burden of any previous negative experience. In my opinion, this is a perfect combination and one which companies should strive for. Balancing the two every single day can certainly be a challenge, but is definitely feasible.

Personally, I find it worthwhile to organize as many shared moments as possible. This could be having lunch together, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, getting together for a monthly barbeque on a Friday afternoon, enjoying after work get togethers or the annual company outing—whatever it is, the generations mix and exchange their thoughts and ideas (at least, they will once corona lets us again.). This is very important, because one thing is clear: The decades long experience as a sales professional or project lead cannot be learned from books, but are essential for our daily business.

When it comes down to it, work has to get done today just as much as it did in the past. The way it gets done might be different, but there is still space for a few rules, just as there is for the freedom to leave the well-trodden path to try something new.

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Published on Jul 15, 2021.