Traditionals, Boomers, Millennials: How technology forms the next generation

new generation in workforce

Experience can shape our interpretations of reality, influencing our view of what we believe to be true. If you consider the collective experiences of a generation, could it be reasonable to believe that these have influenced that generation’s worldview.
Take, for instance, a generation that witnessed Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon, and civil rights.  Surely this might influence a different worldview than a generation that witnessed 9/11, Enron’s collapse, and the rapid increase of smart phones and texting.

Each generation thinks it is the best one

Woodrow Wilson criticized the work ethic of the generation following his for leaving the rigors of farm labor for the ease of factories and their machines. Traditionals criticized Boomers for lacking work ethic. Boomers criticize Millennials for lacking focus, lacking corporate loyalty.

generations of peopleThere is a seemingly never-ending cycle of generational bashing and the juvenilia that often comes with it. It’s important to remember that we easily overestimate ourselves, too.

How do you think others – other generations even – would rank you? Millennials will probably criticize their children for being lazy. After all, their children might grow up with driver-less cars, trains that travel through underground tunnels at speeds faster than a commercial jet airliner, and a four-day workweek.

Technology changes our lives rapidly

multitasking female managerTechnology brings with it disruptive innovation. It is among the most relevant workplace-related disruptions today between generations. It has impacted communication and social protocols in the office. When you consider the Boomer’s formative years, both in and out of the workplace, technology was in its relative infancy. Boomers remember the days of Pong and Betamax. Millennials grew up with technology and have not known a different world. They remember the introduction of smart phones, tablets and 24/7 Internet access.

These “technological experiences” shape the worldview of Boomers and Millennials alike; and, it contributes to some of the workplace challenges we face today. Change is difficult. Ask someone you know how long they stuck with their New Year’s Resolution in 2015, given they’ve not already dismissed their 2016 resolution. Boomers and Gen X in the workplace are finding themselves in a state of change, a situation requiring adaptation to the new reality.

We can and we should revere the experiences of our own generation.  We should not ignore the experiences and wisdom of the generations that precede us. We should seek to understand the generations following us and the experiences that shape them. After all, we play a part in the experiences that shape them. The worldview evolution of each generation helps us adapt often to better meet some of the challenges we face in the present – in and out of the workplace.