About This Blog

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Sticking Points" (Haydn Shaw)

TITLE: Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart
AUTHOR: Haydn Shaw
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Publishers, 2013, (288 pages).

Imagine yourself going to office and working with not just your peers, but your parents, your grand-uncles, and even your children. On paper it sounds very nice, warm, and cosy. In practice, there are generational differences that can make or break relationships. Beginning with the story of Cara, readers get to see how different generations perceive how work gets done. One generation may be faithful at the office from 9 to 5, but has a low efficiency. Another generation may only work three hours a day, be in the office only 3 times a week, and still get the same work done. During meetings, some generations can stay attentive throughout the meeting, while another seems to be multitasking between listening to the meetings, texting on their smartphones, and looking at their own papers.

Calling this era the first time where four generations come together and working side by side in the workplace, this book is an attempt to create "sticking points" so that all four of them can remain closely knitted and in touch with one another. Shaw, a generational expert and popular business speaker highlights five key pointers to understand the differences among the generations.
  1. Four generations may come together with their different cultural styles and preferences;
  2. When it comes to pulling all four generations together, only one in four approaches work today;
  3. It is important to unite by focusing on the 'why' because focusing on the 'what' tends to divide;
  4. Labeling the twelve sticking points will help preempt and anticipate problems before they come
  5. Implementing a 5-step inter-generational leadership style.

Key to the unity approach is to recognize that every point of disagreement is not about fixing but about understanding. Who are the generations? Shaw lists at least five of them:

  • Traditionalists: Born before 1943
  • Baby Boomers: Born between 1944 - 1964
  • Generation Xers: Born between 1965 - 1981
  • Millenials: Born between 1982 - 2003
  • Cuspers: Generations in between all the earlier four.
Why is it important? There are several reasons. In terms of business realities, it is even more important to understanding generational differences because connecting with customers and business associates from a different generation is key to the future of the business. With shifting markets and cultural expectations, the more one understands the inter-generational differences within the organization, the more equipped it will be to deal with different perspectives outside. At least better than companies without any idea what generational differences are. In terms of understanding the culture around us, there are political perspectives that need to be understood; there are different ways government can be run; there are histories and realities of religious and non-profits; there are all kinds of everyday organizations that depend on inter-generational cooperations in order to work.

Twelve sticking points help readers to apply the understanding of the 'what' and the 'why' of the four different generations, and applied within the context of the workplace.
  1. Communications
  2. Decision-Making
  3. Dress Code
  4. Feedback
  5. Fun at work
  6. Knowledge Transfer
  7. Loyalty
  8. Meetings
  9. Policies
  10. Respect
  11. Training
  12. Work Ethic
For all of these 12 points, Shaw gives readers insights on how different each generation views matters. In communications, if an older generation wants to connect with the Millennials there need to be an understanding of some technology and understanding of the Internet. In decision making, the Millennials need to recognize that the traditionalists tend to be more apt at "top-heavy" decisions. In terms of dress code, Gen Xers prefer casual attire at work which may cause traditionalists to frown at. Even the idea of fun at work are interpreted differently. Traditionalists see fun as something non-essential, even harmful as it does not directly generate some income or profits for business. Millennials however see fun as fuel for job. Each of these sticking points can be better understood when each generation is conscious of the five stage process in helping to rethink and reframe their understanding.

  1. Acknowledgement of the different perspectives;
  2. Appreciate both the pros and cons of each;
  3. In Flexing, recognize which is and is not a business necessity. Anything else is a generational preference.
  4. Leverage is about using the strengths of each generation for organizational goals.
  5. Resolve requires the maximum agreement across the board. 

So What? 

Reading this book gives a lot of insights into the uniqueness of each different generations. It also reminds me that while "generation gaps" do exist everywhere, it does not need to cripple us toward ignoring the problem. In fact, if we can learn to look at the differences with a more positive mindset, recognizing that every generation while different has their specific strengths, we can harness them for the better of all. Understanding is not just a nice way to build relationships, it can be a powerful bridge to deepen working relationship and respect for all.

The importance of this book cannot be overstated. With an increasingly diverse workforce, an aging population that cannot afford to retire, and the young increasingly more desperate at getting a job, invariably, every organization will need to face up to having an intergenerational workforce. Instead of trying to swim against the growing tide, why not learn to surf? Why not learn to recognize wave patterns? Wisely pick up skills to learn how to surf and catch the wind. Not only will work become more meaningful, it will make one's senior or junior worker feel more appreciated.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Tyndale Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment