Bridging the Generational Divide

June 27, 2007

Today the CIO of my company did a presentation titled ‘Generational Insight to Workforce Planning’ which described our companies (and many others) situation of an aging Boomer workforce and a growing demand for young knowledge workers. Obviously there wern’t too many surprises in that presentation since that is much of what this blog is devoted to, but what turned out to be very interesting was the conversation that ensued after the presentation.

The room was comprised of members of all four of the major generations currently in the workplace: Matures, Boomers, Xers, and Millennials. One gentlemen brought up the concept of retirment and the fact that very little has been done in terms of succession planning and knowledge management for his position. His concern was what is going to happen to all of the knowledge hat he has acquired over several decades of dedicated employment when he checks out. My immediate concern was not only what is going to happen to that knowledge, but how will it be managed?

I’m sure that a Mature or Boomer would prefer one means of documenting and handing off information and the growing number of Xers and Millennials would prefer an alternative. So how does the employer choose the most appropriate tools for these different generations? If those older workers are more comfortable with a Word doc or email message but the younger workers would prefer to access and upgrade that information through a wiki or have it incorporated in a mashup or team collaboration area; how do you bridge that gap? It was an eye opener for me as a Millennial in that I know what I want and how I want it. However, I often forget that Matures and Boomers also know what they want and how they want it and that their desires have become much more ingrained into their person over time.

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