January 2020

It's Time We Moved Beyond Generational Stereotyping - Here's How

Basing Talent Management Practices on Purported Generational Differences Is Not Effective

I've never been a fan of generational stereotyping - from Morris Massey's frenetic exhortations on "What You Are Is Where You Were When" to the current media hype on Millennials, Xers and Boomers. 

The stuff maybe somewhat entertaining but offers very little value, if not outright damage, as guidance in the world of work. For one thing, reinforcing attribution errors and the human tendency to create "in" and "out" groups is not an honorable pastime (see   The Degrading and Useless Practice of Generational Stereotyping). More importantly, there is a growing mountain of research that finds that generational stereotypes fail to hold up to scrutiny.  Different age groups in the workplace are more alike on attitudes, aptitudes, expectations and interests than we have been led to believe.
"The pattern of results indicates that the relationships between generational membership and work-related outcomes are moderate to small, essentially zero in many cases."
A meta-analysis of 20 studies
(Costanza et al, 2012)

It's time we ignored the hype and paid more attention to what all organizations need to do to stay ahead of rapidly evolving and disruptive business models. This requires that we leverage the evidence on what really works and intentionally retool the experience that any worker, of any age, wants from work. 

For example . . . 

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