Managing the Clash of Generations. Multigenerational Management Strategies for Forming the Organizational Culture

Term Paper, 2018

18 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

Strategies of a multigenerational management for forming the Organizational Culture

Literature Review
Organizational Culture
Generational differences
Generation X in workplace
Generation Y in workplace

Benefits of a multigenerational workforce
Managing a multigenerational workforce




Table of Figures

Figure 1: Different perspectives

Figure 2: Division of the generations

Strategies of a multigenerational management for forming the Organizational Culture

In the age of the demographic change, it is imperative that companies adapt to current circumstances. The organizational culture is a topic of interests in all industries and has become an essential term in business. The central theme of age diversity in organizations is increasingly getting more attention by both practitioners and scientists. The reason for this is that more and more organizations are facing high age differences due to the demographic change. This concerns especially the generations X and Y that are currently working side by side in today’s economy. Each generation has its particularities, unique values, as well as different culture and behavior. A new generation of employees with new expectations and desires prevails in the workplace. In comparison to the generation X, the generation Y is changing cultural values. Given that Generation X works closely with Generation Y, the present seminar paper investigates generational differences and examines the thesis statement that the multigenerational management forms the organizational culture. As many of Generation Y are already in the workforce, executives wisll likely be forced to address generational differences and must deal with unique needs.

The focus of this investigation is the multigenerational management. The effective use of gender and ethnic diversity initiatives can increase the productivity and efficiency of an organization. In addition, recognizing and preparing for specific generation differences is beneficial for the work organization. What is the best way to handle these different generations?

With an introduction to organizational culture, the two different generations will be present. This is followed by an investigation of the multigenerational management.

Literature Review

This chapter shows the definition and background of an organizational culture and points out differences between following generations.

Organizational Culture

To start this seminar paper, it is important to understand the meaning of organizational culture. Recent studies have shown that prosperous companies with sustained profitability and above-normal financial profit are characterized by a successful culture (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). An organizational culture affects the aspects of management, communication, digitization and relationships with employees and customers. Culture is the basis for every activity of an organization and influences it on a cultural level. The cultural thought of an organization finds its roots in cultural anthropology and determines the collective organizational behavior of the people. Culture shapes the coexistence in the organization as well as the appearance to the outside (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). David Cummings, chief executive officer (CEO) at Kevy explains corporate culture in his own way:

“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage completely within the control of the entrepreneur. Government, economy, competitors, weather, etc. are outside your control. What is controllable is the quality of people you work with every day. Never forget that culture wins” (Bellue, 2010, p. 5).

Although Robby Katanga defines organizational culture as organizations are doing things (Watkins, 2013).

Apple has its own way of designing and packaging its products, with no wrinkles and excessive plastic packaging (Krogue, 2013). Thus, Apple shows its organizational cultural values that stand for excellence, simplicity and unique design. These standards are stable, socially constructed, and subconscious (Kampf et al, 2017). Theorists believe that organizational culture is one of the most critical barriers to the use of new knowledge and innovation. Based on the cultural background, Pettigrew was the first one who coined the term organizational culture (Bellot, 2011). In summary, an organizational culture is the individual as well as the unique feature of an organization and manifests itself in activities.

Generational differences

To understand the effects of diversity in the workplace, it might thus be necessary to take on a generational perspective. In organizations, there are different factors that promote diversity. The most significant and most common influence is the age (Glover & Branine, 2001). Each generation is unique because of different life experiences and characteristics. For this reason, the generation-related attributes and perspectives of the employees must be addressed. Subsequently, the generation X & Y will be introduced which are currently co-working in the economy.

Generation X in workplace

Generation X (1965-1980) grew up in the era of the great technological innovations (Kampf et al, 2017). Its members were in the last 30 years active in working life and form a very large part of the employment statistics. A special feature of this generation is that it works to live rather than live to work. In addition, the high rate of mixed families leads to their independence-based behavior. For this reason, the employees of this generation are independent, autonomous and self-sufficient. However, they show less loyalty to their employers. Among the features mentioned, which are attributed to the Generation X, they strive for a work-life-balance (Jenkins, 2007). Money does not necessarily motivate this generation, but the absence of money could lead to demotivation (Karp et al, 2002). They would like to receive feedback, are adaptable to change and prefer flexible schedules. They are entrepreneurial, pragmatic and creative. Even though they are individualistic, they also like teamwork. That’s why employees need to give them a goal and let them be creative (Pierce, 2008). The generation X does not take criticism well, because they think they know everything. Managers must provide an opportunity to work and grow, otherwise they are going to leave. Summarized this generation works independently, so they need a clear mission and well defined goals (Pierce, 2008).

Generation Y in workplace

The Generation Y (1981-1999), also known as Millennials, is competent in the digital space. This generation has grown up in the age of socio-economic, cultural and technological changes that represent certain differences in values, attitudes and preferences (Kampf et al, 2017). The use of computers, tablets and the Internet in advance requires their learning. Millennials are also often referred to as "digital natives". They are also considered competent in other areas, such as performing multiple tasks simultaneously, responding to visual stimulation, and filtering information (Hershatter & Epstein, 2010). Employees of this generation are strong team players with an outstanding sense of group formation (Kampf et al, 2017). They require esteem and recognition at their workplace, are always motivated to learn and grow with their tasks. If the work environment and organization does not provide these features, they will terminate. Work values and settings of this generation are completely different compared to generation X. Generation Y is particularly influenced by the innovations of information and communication technologies. For this reason, it is considered the most digital generation with technologically capable employees. These employees are considered the most motivated, self-confident and best-educated by coming to a company with high expectations. They "want everything" and "want it now". Be it a rewarding salary, benefits, fast career development, work-life-balance, or doing interesting work. Moreover, the meaningfulness and fulfillment of their work is more important than the content. Generation Y wants to be treated and recognized individually. Demanding and encouraging is another way for managers to adapt their management style to increase generation Y's motivation. Unfortunately, the work can quickly turn into a monotony. To counter this, managers must ensure that by giving different tasks. It must be granted to them to develop different projects in teams. There must also be some openness towards the employees, as they can bring innovative and motivating ideas to the company (Nagle, 1999). Generation Y is also motivated if they have the freedom to work as they wish. It would be contra productive if a manager always tells them what to do. On the other hand, they need continuous feedback. This generation wants to know if they are developing positively and do the job well. In summary, the generations have different perspectives.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Different perspectives


The organizational culture is limited in management. In relation to this what possibilities exist for stabilizing and promoting these generations? Organizational culture is the importance of how the work environment has changed over time (Weston, 2006). In traditional bureaucratic structures, interactions between people of different generations follow hierarchical lines. Although this structure is still common in different organizations, many organizations are ready to implement organizational culture and specific management approaches. In the following, benefits of a multigenerational workforce and management strategies will be presented.

Benefits of a multigenerational workforce

Generational challenges within an organization might abound, but positive opportunities also exist (Raines, 2003). A multigenerational team can be an asset to an organization. Each member of a generation brings unique strengths, views and skills. A positive, inclusive work culture can lead to business success by improving recruitment, retention, productivity and profitability. Zemke et al presented several advantages. The team can recruit and therefore retain talented employees of all ages. In addition, the team is characterized by a high flexibility. It can gain and claim a bigger market share as it reflects a multi-generational market. Decisions are stronger because they are broadly based and multiple perspectives provide the team with innovation and creativity. The team can meet the needs of a diverse public and can engage more effectively (Zemke et al, 2000). In addition, generations can benefit from each other: each generation has its own individual values and abilities. The Generation X scores with their experience and the Xer’s can benefit from that. The Generation Y grew up in a digitized world and has more experience in this field. They have expertise, especially in the social media segment. Summarized, companies with an effectively multigenerational workforce have strategic advantages.

Managing a multigenerational workforce

As already mentioned, different generations are working in today's entrepreneurial areas. Here is a proof of the division of these generations and how the distribution has changed. How is a multigenerational workforce handled?

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Division of the generations

Each generation brings a unique set of characteristics and core values to a company (Clark, 2016). On the one hand, these generational differences can offer advantages, on the other hand, it is a challenge for managers. Studies found out that the aspect management has become one of the most important features in business (Crocker, et al, 2010). The first important strategy for successful management is the SWOT-Analysis. Based on this, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can be crystallized. A manager should understand every generation. This includes recognizing the generation and taking advantage of the unique features. The growth and development of the employees are important parts of the manager (Ahmad & Ibrahim, 2015). The presence of a multigenerational workforce within a department can lead to difficulties. Approaching the following tactics may facilitate the management of such a department. There is a need to find ways to understand each generation to account for differences in attitudes, values and behaviors. Generational strengths must be maintained to motivate all employees in the department. In addition, the ability to be more sensitive to the strengths and weaknesses of each generation, especially in the area of media relations, needs to be developed. Generation Y is more affine in the field of social media than Generation X. In the broader sense, the promotion of tolerance is an essential guiding characteristic. This avoids generational conflicts and promotes teamwork skills. In addition, according to Zemke et al, the "ACORN" (accommodate, create, operate, respect and nourish) is a principle, which serves as a management strategy for a generation-spanning environment (Zemke et al, 2000). ACORN is a model of principles and operational innovation. They are used by companies to develop a solid work organization. The use of these 5 principles supports a generation-friendly work environment. In addition, employees focus on fulfilling the mission, not on conflicts. The following explains the principles and gives examples of how a manager could apply these principles in dealing with a multi-generational department. The first segment of ACORN is to accommodate employee differences. The needs of the unique preferences of the employees must be considered to create a friendlier workplace. Employee retention should be the top priority of an organization's must-meet activities. That means the employees have to be treated like their customers (Zemke et al, 2000). For example, a manager should allow generation X employees to decide whether they want to work alone or in a team. Furthermore, the second segment builds the creation of workplace choices.


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Managing the Clash of Generations. Multigenerational Management Strategies for Forming the Organizational Culture
Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Hamburg
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managing, clash, generations, multigenerational, management, strategies, forming, organizational, culture
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Justus Ribbe (Author), 2018, Managing the Clash of Generations. Multigenerational Management Strategies for Forming the Organizational Culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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