Sins of Age
She’s rude. She’s too bossy. He doesn’t want to work. She doesn’t respect her elders. He doesn’t have a clue about email. We work in interesting times, in which three or four generations of techs may create conflict in your lab. Many of the social “sins” people commit are sins of age.
An article in an online magazine describes generations as follows:
- Veterans (born 1922 - 1945) - respect for authority, traditional family values, prefers one on one communication
- Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964) - workaholics, disintegrating family values, likes the telephone
- Generation X (born 1965 - 1980) - self-reliance, skepticism, informality, latch-key kids, likes cell phones at work
- Generation Y or Millennials (born 1981 - 2000) - multitasking, confidence, extreme fun, merged family values, uses internet, picture phones, email
That sounds about right to me. Those entering the workforce recently, for example, attended schools that give awards for showing up, encourage endless do-overs for failure, and emphasize self-esteem over performance. (Good or bad, it's different than my generation.) To a Baby Boomer focused on task and performance to get the job done -- first work and then play! -- these new workers can seem unwilling to pay dues. To a Gen-Y, Baby Boomers shouldn't demand any dues and work a fair share -- what's the big deal?
Chances are your laboratory has three strata, but you might have a few Veterans. The different generations have different outlooks, expectations, and preferences. They judge each others’ behavior from a generational perspective. Why doesn’t she just call on the telephone? Email is impersonal.
Trivial differences become sins when they become obstacles. When everyone is told not to use email, for example, because the telephone is better, it can cause unnecessary stress and conflict to those employees who find email easier. When one group imposes its arbitrary perspective as correct it creates conflict.
I sometimes remind people when they complain about each other, “These are sins of age.” In other words, it’s who we are. It’s a good reminder for me, too.
NEXT: Rude Doctors