Enough already. Just stop now. It’s been said. It is over.
What am I am complaining about? All this never seemingly ending stream of generational stuff (or should that be guff?). My journey with it all began at mildly interested following through to indifference, on to boredom and then parody. I have now arrived at Extremely Irritated.
Yesterday evening I was browsing LinkedIn and clicked through to three articles. Each one contained some generalisation about generations. If this debate was even once worth having, then that time has come and very much gone. I recently had a quiz highlighted to me on twitter, in which you could determine which generation you belonged to by answering questions including ‘do you have any tattoos?’ and ‘do you vote Conservative’. When you have reached this level of debate then there is quite simply nowhere else to go.
I’ve blogged on this subject before, and so have others. Check out a couple of pieces from Mervyn Dinnen’s excellent blog here: http://mervyndinnen.wordpress.com/ I’m returning to the subject because it just won’t go away. More than any other function I have seen, HR people give themselves a hard time. We worry about whether we are strategic, at the top table, seen as quite so relevant as other key business functions. This is a whole other debate, but what I will say, is that if you are a HR person, and if you are being influenced by this conversation, talking about it to your senior managers or trying to use it to make decisions then please, just don’t. Stop. Because it’s adding nothing to the party. All we need to do is treat people according to their individuality. Their age just isn’t that relevant. Just like all the rest of their protected characteristics. Offer choice and flexibility, treat people well and that will usually be enough.
So here is a revolutionary thought: this generation is different to the last. The future of work and its workers will be different again; people will want different thing, have different challenges, needs, desires and wants and their own particular context. It has always been so. And it always will be. The world changes fast, and work changes with it. So prepare for it, but without making sweeping generalisations about people based on the year in which they were born. It’s barely one step up from astrology.
Yes. Just yes. Well said Gemma. Astrology – great analogy. Generational stereotypes and those who “commentate it” goodnight and thanks for nothing.
Love this. Entirely well said. Utterly ridiculous to characterize an entire generation based on fuzzy stereotypes and anecdotal perceptions of the priorities of people WHEN THEY ARE BASICALLY STILL KIDS as compared to the priorities of adults in an entirely different phase of life. My generation were called slackers – so where are all the communes of 40 something do-nothings who just want to play grunge music? It’s such illogical, lazy group-think it makes me crazy. Ahem, that is all…
Great insight HR Gem. Stereotypes and generalisations about groups of people can be a dangerous. We are all different – that’s what make life (and HR) so interesting.