top of page

Dr Mats tip of the day - 029 - Managing inter-generational culture in Disruption and AI

As I covered yesterday, as a manager you are responsible for allocating resources in your organization - ensuring that things get done on time and to plan. This may be easier to do with robots and machines than with people - the management of people can be one of the hardest OR the most rewarding element of being a manager (may swing between two extremes a lot during your career).

Today I wish to cover managing inter-generational differences in Disruption and AI- the issues may be more interesting and yet more challenging.

We live in an era where people are living longer, technology is increasing in speed and complexity. Some countries are biasing systems to encourage people to work up to 70 years of age ! while people some may even wish to work longer (now common for many to work beyond 70). A person who was born in 1950 may soon be working with people born in 2002+ - we know the values on work, dress codes, ethics, politics and technology have changed quite a lot through that 50+ years. Add to that equal rights now recognized for all demographics, including but not limited to, gender, race, disability and religion. Without doubt there will be considerable diversity today that was far less existent in 1955 - so there are bound to be a potential array of value, cultural and other differences in most organisations today.

Managers and business owners can no longer just sit back and ignore difference - the manager is after all responsible for getting things organized and achieved - so some effort in integrating organizational effort and culture is required. Sure the manager is responsible for hiring and encouraging diversity, but not all will possess the skills to build an integrated team to gain the full potential.

Not too hard to see a frustrated computer expert aged 21 being frustrated with a 65+ year old conversing over the internet or email about a "gliche in the system" - without some form of cultural awareness and appreciation or respect - the whole relationship could break down.

Likewise a person that is organizing meetings over the internet may not be aware of cultural and religious holidays in other countries and may become frustrated when " they are not there - as usual".

The manager can, and probably should, spend time assessing the potential for difference in their organization, especially if it has multiple or remote locations spread across countries. It may be useful to sit and brainstorm what type of differences are likely to exist in your organization - not to cause harm or concern - but rather to consider where the pressure points are likely to exist. Sure, you may already have policies about respect and anti-discrimination - but do you really think that they will be sufficient ?

Disruption and AI are also likely to complicate the future, where there may be fast paced change, reductions in staff and potential dislocation of staff structures and relationships. Imagine working for over 50 years in a team only to later find you are working with robots, left with only a few diverse remote individuals that are experts in something that you do not understand. We should not underestimate the potential for staff dislocation or society for that matter in this rapid change - managers need to do something, or risk chaos and anarchy in their organizations !

My suggestion is to consider values and culture as being top areas where managers may be able to influence this change to better outcomes.

When I say values it means writing up, communicating and engaging with the staff that remain on what you consider worthwhile - things that you too will support and not break. Values may include the following and you may need to brace yourself for heavy feedback if you do not follow them after their announcement -

- fairness and openness to new ideas

- no breaking of country laws

- respect for society and environment

- no lying or bending the truth

- etc etc - there will be many values that you may want to list (remember you need to follow them as a manager as well).

Then there is the culture of your organization - these are the norms by which the organization operates - certainly these vary by organization - may be good to consider what your culture/norms are now and how they may need to vary in Disruption or with inter-generational complexity.

Suggestions as to culture assessment may be the following (not exhaustive) -

- are meetings held on time ?

- are meetings minuted ? or do they need to be ?

- how many meetings are good or bad?

- do you require written agendas and submissions before meetings ? or are they impromptu ?

- do you hire for skills or do you train and skill up staff ?

In this upcoming Disruption and AI - it may be that you need to change values and culture in order to be more creative and flexible - as the fast and the niche competitors may have significant advantages.

Inter- generational differences need to be discussed and appreciated (in fact any differences) - not seen as a hindrance but as an advantage. Encourage the young to hear the old, seek mentoring and advice - as the old with over 30 years of experience can surely bring something relevant to the future learnings ? Likewise encourage the older workers to learn new things, using the strengths of the young and their search for knowledge. This is a change that your organization can do - just need to be focused and see there will be advantages if you do !

There is much work to do for managers in preparing for this Disruption and AI ahead - the above is but one more angle to consider. You will benefit if you can pull culture and values together in a rapidly changing world - as they both may provide the boundaries that hold your staff together since the effort in developing, issuing and training people on new policy may be too slow for this time.

If you can see that Disruption is a real and ongoing phenomenon then your organization should consider the gaps now - start resetting the skill sets you may require in Disruption today!

If you are a Leader or seeking to be one in the future - you need to read, read, read about Disruption NOW ! Those that fail to understand and adjust will fall behind.

Feel free to ask Dr Mat over a chat or email on Leadership, Management or change issues, advice, consulting or mentoring that you may seek.

These and other related topics feature in Dr Mats upcoming book titled "Leading and Managing Change in the Age of Disruption and Artificial Intelligence" - written for the modern professional, student and academic wanting to be ahead on modern Leadership and Management issues. Available through Amazon and other book sellers from May 24th 2019 - . This book has been strongly endorsed so use this link to review the endorsements and their comments

- consider buying this book or recommend it to colleagues or others.

Consider your own specific situation and seek professional advice before acting directly in reaction to any of the tips on this website, they are intended as general advice only.

8 views0 comments


bottom of page