While it is clear that the American society places a lot of emphasis on generations, contemporary organizational thought demonstrates that each generation has its unique system of values, communication styles, work culture, and attitudes.
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Nowadays, more than ever before, the generation issue is constantly revisited by analysts, policy makers, and mainstream commentators as they seek to understand the values that drive these unique sets of the population. The present paper describes two such generations, namely Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation X (1965-1980), in the context of their deeply held values as well as the strengths and weaknesses of these values in work-related environments.
From the time-frames indicated above, it is evident that Baby Boomers are the predecessors to Generation X. From observation, it is also evident that most Baby Boomers posses unique values, such as holding a fresh perspective to current issues, respecting performance rather than titles, demonstrating optimistic and team orientations, sensitivity to feedback, and impulsive urge for personal growth and gratification.
President Barrack Obama of the U.S., for instance, is a Baby Boomer who has not only brought a fresh perspective to the presidency but seems oriented towards service delivery rather than seeking protection from the title of the most powerful president in the world.
Generation X individuals, on their part, demonstrate unique values including questioning authority, having a positive attitude to life challenges, demonstrating impatience, being goal-oriented and demonstrating the capacity to multi-task in jobs, desire to be self-reliant, thinking globally, and a high propensity to work in informal work environments.
Additionally, individuals in Generation X do a lot of work within their respective organizations; however, they always demand to be given the freedom to do the work their way. Musicians Jennifer Lopez and Madonna exemplify this generation.
From the exposition above, it is clear that each generation has its own strengths and weaknesses. President Obama and other high-performing Baby Boomers derive their strength from team orientation, respect for performance rather than titles, and reinforced the urge to achieve personal growth and gratification.
However, individuals within this generation perform dismally in the face of conflict and also demonstrate sensitivity to feedback. In contrast, Generation X individuals such as Jennifer Lopez and Madonna are hugely successful due to their positive attitude, the capability to multi-task as well as orientation as goal-getters. However, others are unable to fit into work-related contexts due to their flair to question authority and also due to a propensity to be given the freedom to do whatever they want.
Undoubtedly, it can be argued that the change between Baby Boomers into Generation X has more beneficial impacts than disadvantages. For instance, although Generation X employees may seek to be given their own freedom in work-related contexts, hence initiating problems in control, evidence demonstrates that they perform exemplary well due to such intrinsic values as positive attitude, goal-orientation, multi-tasking, self-reliance and thinking globally. Indeed, it can be argued that they have the qualities most needed in today’s dynamic and intensely competitive work environment.
In conclusion, it can be restated that there exist differences in values between Baby Boomers and Generation X and that these values have their unique strengths and weaknesses when located in work-related contexts. However, as reinforced in this discussion, understanding the differences between these two generations is of immense importance in developing a successful multigenerational workplace.