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Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality

ISBN: 978-1-119-21234-8
208 pages
October 2016
Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality (1119212340) cover image


Case studies and strategies for more effective multi-generational management

Clash of the Generations explores this new and increasingly common workplace phenomenon, and provides strategies to help managers navigate this ever more complex maze. Traditionally, older workers would retire and make room for the next generation; instead, Baby Boomers are now prolonging their time in the workplace, yet the successive generations are still coming in. Senior leaders are now left to manage a blended workplace comprised of up to four generations—each with their own ideas of work ethic, work/life balance, long-term career goals, and much more. Management is challenging at the best of times, but the new prevalence of generation gaps—sometimes even layered—add an entirely new dimension to an already complex responsibility. This book presents case studies and interviews with representatives of companies with age-diverse workforces, detailing innovative strategies for smoothing out the bumps and helping everyone work together.

Managers have long wished that their positions came with an instruction manual, and this book delivers with a host of effective inter-generational management strategies illustrated by real-world companies.

  • Manage the multi-generation workplace more effectively
  • Navigate the generational culture clash
  • Adopt proven strategies for helping everyone get along
  • Promote a more positive culture amidst clashing expectations

Every generation in the workplace has value, each has their own strengths, their own weaknesses, and their own unique talents. Each is indispensable, and when they come together as a synergistic force, they can be unstoppable. Effective management means bringing out the best in your workforce, and the strategies presented in Clash of the Generations help you streamline your varied workforce into a team more valuable than the sum of its parts.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1 The New Workplace Reality 1

The Changing Nature of Leadership, 4

The Changing Role of the Manager, 5

The Changing Role of HR, 8

The Changing Role of the Employee, 10

Building on These Changes, 11

Notes, 12

Chapter 2 Defining the Generations 13

What the Experts Say, 15

The Big Three—and a Newcomer, 16

Generational Characteristics, 21

The More Things Change, 21

Notes, 23

Chapter 3 Fostering a Culture of Inclusion 25

The Business Case for Diversity, 28

The Role of Company Culture, 29

Overcoming a Negative Culture, 32

Creating an Age-Diverse Culture, 33

Notes, 37

Chapter 4 Setting the Stage for Great Performance 39

Goal Setting, 42

Evaluating Employee Performance, 46

You Get What You Reward, 52

Senior Leadership versus Peer-to-Peer Recognition, 53

The Basics of Recognition, 55

Intrinsic Motivators, 56

Career and Development Recognition, 57

Notes, 60

Chapter 5 Being an Inclusive Manager 61

The Benefits of Inclusion, 63

Breaking Bad Habits, 64

False Thinking of New Managers, 65

Lead by Example, 65

Don’t Emulate Bad Managers, 66

Promoting Respect, 66

Innovation at Both Ends of the Spectrum, 68

Managing Workers Older Than You, 69

The Consequences of Not Being Inclusive, 70

Notes, 71

Chapter 6 Promoting Growth Opportunities 73

The Power of Effective Delegation, 76

Empower Your Employees, 79

Accommodating Different Learning Styles, 80

Experiential Training, 82

Establish a Mentoring Program, 84

Notes, 84

Chapter 7 Managing Differences in Work Ethic 87

Defining Work Ethic, 90

The Importance of Mission to Millennials, 92

Connecting Company Mission to Social Goals, 93

What Managers Can Do, 94

What Companies Can Do, 96

Notes, 97

Chapter 8 Managing Different Work-Life Balance Expectations 99

The Birth of Work-Life Balance, 101

Work-Life Blending versus Balancing, 102

Performance versus Face Time, 103

Managing Flexibility, 105

Managing Virtual Teams, 107

Notes, 109

Chapter 9 Managing Differences in Career Development Planning 111

Expectations of Career Development by Generation, 113

Using Career Development for Succession Planning at All Levels, 116

Five Easy Steps to Creating a Career Plan, 117

Creating a Company-Wide Development Program Specific to Leadership, 119

Creating Your Own Career Development Plan, 122

Notes, 124

Chapter 10 Generational Give and Take 125

Communication Is Key, 127

The How and When of Communication, 128

Appreciating the Contributions of Youth, 131

Valuing the Wisdom of Age, 132

Promoting Positive Interactions, 133

The Challenge of the Young Leading the Wise, 135

Notes, 136

Chapter 11 You as the Motivating Force 137

Expectations of Today’s Manager, 139

Focusing on You, 141

Finding a Mentor, 143

Moving from Tactical Doer to Strategic Thinker, 145

Notes, 147

Appendix A Case Study - Chegg 149

Background, 149

Benefits, 150

Company Culture, 150

Physical Work Environment, 151

Recruiting, 152

Summary, 153

Appendix B Case Study - Consultants: Leadership Development Services, LLC, and RGP 155

Interviewees, 155

Leadership, 156

Flexibility, 158

Work Ethic and Style, 158

Benefits, 159

Appendix C Case Study - Electronic Arts 161

Background, 161

Company Culture, 162

Career Development, 163

Recruiting, 165

Summary, 165

Appendix D Case Study - Hy-Ko Products 167

Background, 167

Benefits and Recruitment, 168

Career Development, 169

Summary, 170

Appendix E Case Study - TECT Corporation 171

Background, 171

Recruitment, 172

Company Culture, 172

Career Development, 173

Summary, 175

Appendix F Case Study - The Andersons 177

Background, 177

Company Culture, 178

Physical Work Environment, 179

Career Development, 180

Benefits, 181

Summary, 181

About the Author 183

Index 185

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Author Information

VALERIE M. GRUBB is founder of the con-sulting firm Val Grubb & Associates Ltd. She is an innovative, visionary operations leader with an exceptional ability to zero in on the systems, processes, and human capital issues hampering a company's success. During her career, she served as vice president of strategic operations and initiatives at NBC Universal and played a key role in creating both Oxygen Media and IAC. She is the author of Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel.

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Press Release

October 31, 2016
Valerie M. Grubb Tackles the Multigenerational Workplace in Her New Book, Clash of the Generations

"Managing employees is a challenging endeavor under any circumstances—and it’s even more difficult in the midst of generational culture clash." So says Valerie M. Grubb, management expert and author of the new book Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality (Wiley, 2016), which draws on her experiences over more than two decades of overseeing thousands of employees and on interviews with representatives of several companies with age-diverse workforces. The target audiences of this book are seasoned professionals as well as new managers.

"Millennials have been in the workforce for over 10 years, yet organizations and individual managers still struggle to crack the code for motivating and engaging the largest generation currently in the workforce," Grubb emphasizes. "Adding to this challenge is the fact that Baby Boomers are not retiring in the droves originally expected. Instead, the average retirement age has steadily been creeping up—and recent stats indicate that this number will continue to rise. Because Boomers are prolonging their time in the workplace, the old business model of 'the mature retire to make way for the new' no longer applies. Companies now find themselves with employees from a wider range of ages than ever before."

Senior leaders, managers, and HR professionals must now manage a blended workforce spanning four generations that vary wildly in their work ethics, ideas about work/life balance, and long-term career goals, among other concerns. “In order to manage people, you need to understand them,” Grubb explains. “And because generation-based experiences and attitudes greatly influence not only how employees do their own jobs but also how they relate to other employees, anyone who manages a multigenerational workforce should prioritize understanding those experiences and attitudes.” Managers who want to understand their employees’ values, motivations, strengths (and shortcomings), and career goals will value this book’s well-researched presentation of each generation's history, major influences, and interests.

Such information is indispensable to managers facing generational differences in the workplace, which, if unaddressed, can be disruptive and lead to serious misunderstandings. As the workplace becomes more age-diverse, managers must work harder to make sure that everyone gets along. In Clash of the Generations, Grubb details proven strategies that managers and senior leaders can use immediately to incorporate the contributions of youth and the wisdom of age to give organizations a competitive edge in reaching more customers.

Because every generation adds its unique strengths to the workplace, embracing age diversity (and, in fact, celebrating inclusion and all types of diversity) has a positive impact on employee engagement and innovation efforts. "Many company leaders talk about welcoming diversity, but they're talking about ethnicity and gender rather than generational differences," Grubb points out. "It's so important that age diversity, along with diversity of any kind, become priorities. That can happen only if senior leaders make those goals company-wide business initiatives." She concludes, "Smart company executives will focus on engaging employees of all generations to put their best and brightest ideas to work for the company."

"Sometimes, it requires a lot of 'kicks at the can' to get the right formula for each individual employee," Grubb admits. Through her own decades of experience, she has developed practices that work in the real world, where employee and management expectations and understandings are fluid. Short on theory and long on tactics, Clash of the Generations provides proven strategies that managers and senior leaders can implement now to motivate and engage even their most challenging direct reports and get the best performance from employees of all ages.

Clash of the Generations is not an ordinary management book written by someone who merely theorizes about what it’s like to lead employees. This is a book written by someone who has lived in the management trenches for more than twenty years and has managed thousands of employees across several major organizations (including NBC Universal, Oxygen Media, IAC, and Rolls-Royce). As companies continue to cut training dollars, leaving only years of “on the job” training as the main venue for the development of management skills,  this book presents a much-needed alternative for anyone wanting to increase his or her management acumen. With Clash of the Generations, managers now have the knowledge and tools they need to reduce  conflict in the workplace, achieve their own professional goals, and help everyone in the corporate sandbox reach his or her highest potential.

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