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Old 09-18-2010, 08:02 AM
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Default Young Blood Vs Grey Hair @ WORK

AGE and experience have always been revered in oriental societies like India. This was true not just in the social context but also in the corporate sector. In most companies, more so among public sector units, age has a direct correlation with seniority in the organisation. But it's changing fast as globalization and technology are changing the rules of the game. With a heavy thrust on performance, experience no longer carries the premium it once used to. Fresh thinking and ability to adapt and learn on the job are becoming very important. Not surprisingly, many seasoned executives find themselves overtaken by relatively young fresh graduates.

This shift of power generates heat and friction at the workplace. The experienced lot isn't exactly thrilled at taking instructions from someone much younger. The younger lot, brimming with new ideas and raring to go, often feels bogged down by the friction that age experience dynamics generate at the workplace.

The conflict arises usually because of a clash in mindsets. The older lot tends to view the younger bosses as a bunch of inexperienced, impulsive upstarts with little regard for age or wisdom. The younger ones, on their part, tend to think of the former as outdated, low on ambition and resistant to fresh ideas.

Here's our guide to managing heat and friction at the workplace between younger and older executives.

  • Be sensitive
    With so much age gap, there's an obvious difference in attitude, mindset and approach to work and life. This is generation gap playing out at the workplace and both generations need to handle this with care and tact. This is particularly true for the younger lot who are at the forefront.

    They need to keep in mind the fact that it's far more difficult for the older lot to change than the younger ones. Nobody likes being bossed over, certainly not when it's the younger lot bossing over the older ones.

    A little patience and some sensitivity while communicating with them can go a long way. Making the older lot feel important and their experience invaluable to the organization is important.
  • Be flexible
    Stereotypes are meant to be broken. Not every young boss is aggressive, brash and opinionated. Just like not every older employee is closed-minded and condescending. So keep an open mind. A little respect for the older lot can go a long way in establishing rapport with the older lot. Understanding each other as colleagues, not necessarily as boss-subordinate will help.
  • Avoid needless clash
    For the older crowd, it's important to steer clear of constantly harping about the 'good old days.' Drop the condescending attitude and stop equating younger years with less capability. As for younger bosses, don't dismiss the O L D E R subordinates as a bunch of resistance - a little respect and appreciation of their contribution might go a long way in winning their confidence.
  • Give & take
    Respect others for what they bring to the table. The older lot has the benefit of experience and consistency, while the younger ones have the creativity, ideas and a better understanding of coping with today's fast-paced business environment. Both sets have a lot to learn from each other, so keep the channels of communication open.
  • Common goal
    Ultimately, both of you are working for the greater good of the organization. Keeping that big vision in mind, despite conflicts, will help focus energies more constructively.
  • ICE AGE
    In a world biased towards performance than experience, avoiding friction born out of generation gap calls for tact and sensitivity.
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Old 09-18-2010, 08:03 AM
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Default Work & workers are cubicled no more!

requent travel, tech and 24/7 life have turned homes, cars, planes and beaches into offices..

HOW far is your office? 8 km from home...500 miles away at the client site...20 km away at the airport lounge.A few yards away in your car down there in the garage?

May be right there, at home, in your bed - on your laptop! Just when corporate offices were getting fancier with plush lounges, gourmet food, gym, libraries, crèches.guess what! Your office has moved.

It is penetrating all spaces. Remember those client calls while strolling on Goa sands? Rushing through the security drill to clear those urgent emails at the airport lounge? Or getting out in the middle of a movie to calm down that irate customer. Or simply sitting at home tending to your unwell son while wrapping up that urgent project? Mobile phones, blackberries, laptops - technology and gadgets have helped offices move into our homes, cars and planes.

It is penetrating all spaces. Remember those client calls while strolling on Goa sands? Rushing through the security drill to clear those urgent emails at the airport lounge? Or getting out in the middle of a movie to calm down that irate customer. Or simply sitting at home tending to your unwell son while wrapping up that urgent project? Mobile phones, blackberries, laptops - technology and gadgets have helped offices move into our homes, cars and planes.

Historically, Indians derived their identity from their jobs. It gave them their surnames and a standing in the society. Then urbanization with suburbs brought in the idea of home-for-home and work-for-work model - perhaps good for the shop floored industrial era where synchronous physical presence was critical. Now in a growing number of services sector jobs, that fixity is gone. Individualism and creativity is in. "Work has come back into our lives but in a very different way," says Mr. Desai. Think about the fuss around those carpets, desktops, sofas in the corner room. "In a physical sense, mobile office breaks that fixed notion of hierarchy," says sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan. Instead, new subtle and flexible symbols like Blackberry, cars, designer suits and exclusive clubs are giving the corner room a new form.

As a result, the notion of one person, one job, one place, one identity is undergoing a shift. You can be sitting at home watching a cricket match and still be working - tracking your clients' network. You might be partying, and yet be available for that 9 pm conference call. At once, multiple identities can coexist. "All this will help bring in freedom and flexibility, fostering innovation and creativity," adds Mr. Vishwanathan. "Why are we so hung up on changing those balloons in the office? Office has moved out of our offices and employers will need to figure that out," says Arun Maira, chairman, Boston Consulting Group. Employers will need different tools to equip, enable and monitor their employees amid this change.

But the impact is being felt far beyond the workers - in his family, especially women. Mothers are the immediate beneficiaries - flexi-arrangement is giving them an option that wasn't there before. Many companies report improvement in mothers joining back work. It also makes work less abstract - kids, spouses today know far more about those office deadlines, interviews, boardroom meetings, the client crisis that you often grapple with. "This state of continuous partial attention also means many of us would be leading pixilated lives made of small discontinuous dots," says Mr. Desai.

"Working 24/7 is fashionable but youngsters will need to learn to switch on and off," says R Gopalakrishnan, executive director, Tata Sons. Now, did someone say it's old-fashioned?
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