The Match: From Fighting it out to Finding the Right Fit

Posted  | 2 Comment(s)  |  by Elaine Varelas, Keystone Partners

As originally published on (link to original article coming soon)

It is time for the match.  The battle lines are drawn, and most employees have chosen their sides.  In one corner, we have “The Boomer”: a steadfast, loyal, and wise team-player with a stellar work ethic.  He may be a little slow with technology, but he can schmooze a client like nobody’s business.  In the other corner, “The Millennial”: an exuberant, tech-savvy, multitasker, able to solve a nagging IT problem in a single all-nighter (but then she expects a promotion for completing that one project).  Which generation will win?

Does this sound like your organization?  In too many companies across the globe, the workplace is becoming increasingly competitive, with snarky comments slung back and forth about the work styles of different generations.  Human resources professionals can sometimes feel like referees or mediators between Boomers and those from generation Y (and don’t forget the specific needs and demands of the Gen-Xers and Gen-Zers out there!).  It’s exhausting! 

Source: of tweeting #whycan’twealljustgetalong?, what can HR managers do to create a work environment less focused on differences and one-upping one another and more on working together to get the work done?  Instead of thinking of a match as a competition, think of it as finding the right fit in the organization for every person’s work style. 

There are countless stereotypes that have developed about generational groups.  Millennials are entitled and self-centered.  Boomers fight change and are slow to adapt.  Yes, we know the problems and the benefits associated with the different generations, but what can HR professionals do with an employee base of such vast and varying skills, interests, experience, and abilities? 

Wait a minute!  Isn’t that what HR people are always trying to do?  Create both depth and breadth of talent?  Perpetuating stereotypes, comparisons, and name-calling certainly doesn’t help an organization create a cohesive culture or advance its business goals.  Yet, taking advantage of the range of experience and skills is a great idea! 

Source: leaders should also understand that the differences in generational work styles are not just personal quirks and preferences, but are spurred by societal and economic shifts.  The Boomer may be dedicated to a single company, but that company offered advancement and security through the “graduate to retirement” work track.  That career path is virtually non-existent today. 


Millennials cannot be expected to remain loyal to organizations that treat them as disposable or, at best, replaceable.  Knowing that work styles are bred from global shifts can help take the “blame” off of groups of people and put generational differences into perspective. 

HR professionals should also avoid assumptions and generalizations.  Just because someone was born in the 1950s doesn’t mean he or she is adverse to email or is harder working than the person next door who was born 40 years later. 

Treat each person as an individual and find out about his or her motivations, skills, work preferences, and goals.  What do they care about?  What excites them?  Where do they want to be and who do they want to work with?  Additionally, look at where in the organization their work style is needed and will be valued.

Next, talk to managers to determine what skills and experience will add to their staff.  An IT department filled with tenacious, impulsive tech-wizzes, may need a methodical people-person to keep them on track.  A sales team with flat-lining sales may need some fresh ideas or an innovative way to revive “the old way of doing things.”  Managers also must be reminded to be open to all work styles and forget their personal likes and dislikes in favor of what is best for the organization. 

Instead of keeping groups separate or mixing generations just for the sake of cohesion, have a systemic approach to placing people where they will have the greatest business impact.  Ultimately, different work styles can complement and enhance one another and create a more effective team. 

It is extremely important that HR professionals not take sides.  If they lament the downfall of the work ethic among Generation Y or poke fun at a Boomer’s aversion to texting they are only adding to the polarization of the workplace. 

The Match: From Fighting it out to Finding the Right FitIf you drive out the Boomers, the organization loses their expertise, history, and wisdom—and the office may resemble a remake of “Lord of the Flies”.  Without the Millennials, the organization could get stuck in the past and the workplace may become a silent movie.   All work styles are needed to move the organization forward. 

It is the tenth month of 2014, and this year passed in a flash.  Before we know it, Generation Z will be beaming out their resumes.  While we don’t yet know what will define this next generation of workers, we can guarantee that it will be different from any of the ones before it.  Changes will continue to come and those organizations that remain flexible, accommodating, and open to change will be able to utilize the skills and expertise all of the generations have to offer. 

If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming generation of worker, Generation Z, consider registering for our November 6th webinar on the topic. To be held at 2pm EDT, “Generation Z – Understanding the Next Generation of Worker” features guest speaker and bestselling author Dan Schawbel on the results of his research on Generation Z. To find more information on the webinar and to view the recording, click here.

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Danielle S.'s avatar
    Danielle S.
    | Permalink
    It's important for organizations to put the stereotypes aside and truly understand each generation of worker. Ultimately, we can all work together, it's just about finding that right fit.
  2. Elaine's avatar
    | Permalink
    Danielle you are right, but it doesn't seem easy. Managers need to work on these skills and help others at all levels of the organization develop as well.

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