Friday 4 November 2011

Challenging the notion of generational differences

GENERATION Another interesting study on generational work differences fails to find any significant link between generation and working style.

I know we often assume that the different generations will have radically different working styles, yet when we test this, we find little hard evidence.

Now we have another study, referenced above, which has the same conclusions, namely

  • The study results challenge the notion of "generational differences"
  • The differences in personality and work values are much smaller than expected given the current emphasis on this topic (seminars, books, training programs, etc.)
By "much smaller", the study quotes figures of 1% to 3% of the variability, ie statistically insignificant.. It then asks
  • Are "Generations at Work" seminars/training valuable?
  • Are programmatic initiatives simply based on stereotypes, rather than research?
  • Example: Are HR initiatives specifically designed for the Baby Boomer generation worthwhile?
This is a warning to us when we build assumptions about generational preferences into our knowledge management programs - they may well be just that - Assumptions!

(If anyone can reference any studied that DO show statistically significant variations, I would be interested to see them. Please add a comment if you have such studies to share)

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