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Time is on My Side: When Tech Companies Embrace Generational Diversity

Multi-generational teams
4 minuteminutos readde lectura
Shannon Cantor
ByPor Shannon Cantor

Shannon’s craving for knowledge inspired her studies in languages and literature, and has ultimately driven her into a career of research and writing. She has spent the past years immersed in conversations surrounding IT business strategy, creating content that synthesizes these concepts and enhances our understanding of them. She is a published academic author, content specialist, and--in her “free” time-- project manager in the non-profit sector.

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Cultural differences create a hot and well-covered topic. It’s generally agreed that patience and an open mind will carry you far when working with diverse, international teams. But many forget that diversity encompasses more than just geographical distances— it includes, also, those temporal. It includes Multi-generational teams, as well as teams with varied skills. 

Multi-generational teams are intrinsically multi-cultural, for age creates a separation as wide as oceans, albeit better disguised. From teenagers fighting with parents to young hires feeling frustration with their elder bosses (and vice versa!), generational gaps often block communication and productivity. But despite technology’s ever-rapid progression, making even just one generation removed can feel like lightyears away, the IT sector actually creates just the space in which these varying ages thrive in confluence. The field’s forward-thinking and push for new ideas lean into the diversity that other business sectors avoid. So, let’s travel through time, with the same intentionality to learn that we apply on our journeys around the world. We might just see that temporal cultural diversity is also a secret strength. 

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Defining Generations

Retrospective analysis has categorized three generations in the current workforce: Baby Boomers (born 1946-1962), Generation X (1965-1980), and Millenials (1981-2000) (Baby, 2019). Each generation functions on a unique set of priorities, values, and assumptions about the world, creating the cultural differences we often feel when working together in Multi-generational teams (Gelbutch, 2019). Let’s break down the particularities of each one:

Baby Boomers: the product of post-World War II bliss, this generation grew up in affluence. Children of the roaring 50s and rebels of the 60s and 70s, the Boomers also represent the first openly tolerant generation. They experienced I Have a Dream and the Vietnam War and responded with a team spirit that manifested in the dedication at the workplace and a plethora of community organizations (Abrams, 2014).

Generation X: more cynical than that of their parents, the “X” generation tends to value strategy and efficiency. Their communication is direct and informal, with a forward-thinking mindset that is self-reliant in accomplishing goals (Baby, 2019) (Abrams, 2014).

Millennials: known to be smart, creative, and slightly too idealistic; millennials seek open minds and constructive feedback. They want open communication that values team equality, viewing work and life through a holistic lens (Baby, 2019) (Abrams, 2014). 

Each of these generations approaches problems, and invents solutions, from a unique perspective. With the variety of complex situations that require novel ideas, a multi-generational team provides a multicultural outlook that just might provide the creative advantage —all while keeping things efficiently close to home. 

The Advantage of Timeless IT Forces

It may be easier to keep these extremely different-thinking generations in separate teams, allowing the natural gaps to solidify into chasms. But truly cutting-edge tech companies conceptualize the variant age groups as a unique form of cultural diversity and leverage the multifaceted skills and ideas that come with such territory. The perspective leads to intentional communication, understanding that each generation–like each geographical culture– brings its own advantage. Further, the IT industry and WebCreek thrives on novel ideas and forward-thinking; and the unique cultural-temporal fusion provides a key towards timeless innovation.