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The Generational Culture Clash

Working with people from a different generation means working with people raised in a different cultural environment. Consultant Annika Hylmő advises UCLA employees on how to bridge the generation gap.

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Published Jul 3, 2008 3:29 PM


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Talk about workplace conflict.

Julie, a baby boomer, has just completed her 14th year in the same UCLA department where Justin, a generation-Xer, is working under her supervision. While she likes the formality and structure meetings provide, Justin, who likes to work independently, can't understand why she requires him to attend so many meetings when, in his view, an e-mail exchange could accomplish the same thing.

Meanwhile, Parker, a new employee and a millennial, likes to go to Julie's meetings because it makes him feel part of the team. Constantly looking for direction and feedback, he thinks it's likely to help him get that promotion he hopes will come in six months.

Unrealistic expectations collide with contrasting work styles?

It's a situation that's cropping up in many an American workplace where employees are looking at a yawning generational gap among traditionalists (born 1925-1943), baby boomers (1944-1962), generation-Xers (1963-1981) and millennials (1982-2000).

To help coworkers understand why such differences in values and attitudes exist in the multi-generational workplace, Annika Hylmő, a consultant with a Ph.D. in organizational communications, is guiding organizations through the generational shifts that are occurring.

"Everybody's looking around and asking, 'Why can't they just be more like me?'" she observed. In part, it's because of the historical and societal influences that have shaped each succeeding generation, she said. To help, she gives a cross-cultural guide to those "other" generations.

Get a cheat-sheet guide to traditionalists, boomers, gen-Xers and millenials by reading the complete story at UCLA Today.

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