The Desk

June 30, 2016

Troubled Landscape: Generations

So much of the time the typical comments heard about the new work force is in relation to generations that are post Baby Boom. There are comparisons. There are complaints. There are acknowledgements of positive attributes. There are concerns about the pressures they are already beginning to endure and sympathy for their conditions. There is awareness that they are deferring many of the usual inroads into adult life.

The majority of the complaints are with regard to whether the younger workforce is actually qualified to manage the needed tasks in a responsible way. Indeed, there are many instances wherein the complaints are justified. Quality of service and quality of workmanship is missing. The customer winds up needing to explain the concepts to the one doing the serving when the situation should be the reverse.

But the stream of soft, dewy faces continues to bombard the large and small silver screens. The older faces that either bear white hair or none at all become more faint and then drop out of view. Finally, a storyteller (read scriptwriter) allows us to be part of the scene being painted and we begin to see the cycle of life happening whereas we thought we were standing in a timeless environment. We are aging; it is time for the younger, newer to prepare to over the positions we once occupied. Our roles need to change.

At one time, we considered the younger generation as self absorbed and like a petulant child that demands what has yet to be earned. In a more reflective moment, we realize the Millennials are mimicking what we ourselves did some 40 to 50 years ago. We considered ourselves quite sophisticated and adult. We knew everything and were exquisite. We deserved not only what we had but had earned (and were entitled to) even more. Not only that, today’s Millennials and every generation before them feels their compensation should be much higher so that there is the ability to put their foot out of the nest in order to create their own.

And there’s the difficulty. The compensation seems misaligned in many instances. Not only that. There seems to be too little money available to be paid to the growing numbers of those who would like to be employed. Compounding that situation is the fact that inflation continues while the dollar’s buying power continues to shrink. That phenomenon is not merely because of inflation. It is also impacted by the fact that we now live in a global economy. It is simply good business to manufacture as cheaply as possible in order to sell at the highest possible markup and reap the best profit for the efforts to get to market with quality product or service.

And then there’s the issue of quality service – and training. In the rush to fill the orders and seats that are needed to create delivery, there’s something that’s being overlooked or given short shrift. It’s a precious asset. Few appreciate just how valuable it is. It’s called training. It’s sibling is mentoring. Good training will bring about quality service. Good training (and quality practice) will bring about quality product. And good mentoring will provide the insights not available in the textbook. That mentoring will also be the barometer of when the next plateau of development needs to be approached.

There's a mixture of generations working as one entity today

Previous roles are changed as life cycles evolve.

The difficulty with this easy-to-read picture is that the workforce is now a collage of generations. Some are just commencing Life. Others are in reboot mode because their previous industry collapsed or because they were downsized and cut out in order to cut costs. Difficult as it may be, there are many who are willing to subsume their ego and thoughts about their previous status in order to be included in the numbers who are employed and actually earning a living rather than being supported by government stipends or the kindnesses of strangers and family. Everyone is going through the spin cycle in order to come out still fresh and sparkly and equipped to produce because of the quality of knowledge, skill, education, experiences, and eagerness to be all they can be – and to help the business get there.

Today’s world of work is a difficult landscape.

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