Generations at Work: How Different Generational Styles May Be Hampering Your Business

By Reed Richardson.

Some days it may feel like getting everyone in your small business to work together is a Herculean task. Even if your company consists of a handful of employees or just yourself and one other partner, there may be times when it seems like everyone else involved in your business is using a different playbook. It’s tempting to attribute this disorganized effort to differences in jobfunctions—salespeople aren’t in sync with the operations staff, human resources doesn’t understand the needs of customer service—but there may be another major factor contributing to a company’s lackluster performance, one that small business owners in particular frequently overlook: generational differences.

A decade ago, understanding how generational differences affect productivity in the workplace was often dismissed as a frivolous, touchy-feely topic, says David Stillman, co-author of the bookWhen Generations Collide. Now, however, he says more and more companies are realizing the very profound effect that the four generations currently comprising the U.S. workforce—Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials (see sidebar for demographic explanation)—can have upon their chances for success.