...the fad of "generational differences" is the worst kind of pseudoscience. Poorly reseached, it relies on accepting the sorts of pop-culture stereotypes normally found in Parade magazine, and drawing anecdotal conclusions. Here's a typical example: "...not only do members of Generation Y look different, with their body piercings, tattoos, and electronic decorations, they behave and think differently as well." Really? All of them? Most of them? What percentage? Is there a difference if you only have piercings and "electronic decorations," and didn't go for a tattoo? What about those that have none of these?
It makes tenuous connections for which there is little support. I read one example where the generation who watched "Damien" at the movies learned to distrust children, while the generation that saw "Look Who's Talking" were supposed to have a strong affinity for children. Again, what percentage saw these movies? What were their attitudes before seeing the movie? How many reported a change in attitude afterward? What about those who didn't see the movie - what are their attitudes? (Does it just rub off?) If the premise even made enough sense to bother researching - which it doesn't - where's the research leading to such conclusions? Across the field, it largely does not exist.
Which set of "generational" values characterizes the "boomers": protesting racial discrimination at lunch counters, or beating up the protesters? Are Democrats or Tea Partiers the real "boomers"? Bill Clinton or George Bush?
Five minutes of reflective thought on questions such as these shows the shallowness of this area of "study." A more accurate study might look at how, DESPITE shared generational experience, people have quite different and often opposing values in many areas of life, because there are so many factors that play a more important role in determining those than the accident of the time in which you are born.
I know this silliness is very much in vogue, but it is without foundation. The idea that HR departments are going to make any personnel management decisions based on these stereotypes is disturbing. Its pretense to representing some kind of important insight into how to manage the "multi-generational work place" serves only to give the appearance of legitimacy to prejudices and pigeon-holing. One day, it will join phrenology and palmistry on that long list of obvious nonsense that even "thinking" human beings swallow without a critical thought.
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