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A Facilitator's Condrum Essay

4039 words - 17 pages

A Facilitator's Conundrum: Facilitating in a Multi-generational Learning Environment
Michele Hickman
Sullivan University
Managing Organizational Conflict
Dr. Susan Raines
May 7, 2014

A Facilitator's Conundrum: Facilitating in a Multi-generational Learning Environment

Learning and development are essential tools in talent management for the American workforce. The ability to learn and grow helps an organization recruit and retain top talent, as well as grow existing talent. These learning opportunities are presented to various individuals at various times. When new talent is hired, individuals with a variety knowledge, skills, and experiences are pulled ...view middle of the document...

”(Harrison, 2007, p. 2) These four generations are identified as Traditionalist (those born from 1922 – 1945), Baby Boomers (those born from 1946 – 1964), Generation X (those born from 1965 – 1980), and Generation Y (those born from 1981 – 2000). One author, R. L. Harrison, defines the current environment as “the first time in history where five generations are present in the workplace.”(2009, p. 51). Whereas, the five generations are defined as Veterans (those born between 1900 – 1926), Traditionalist (those born between 1927 – 1944), Baby Boomers (those born between 1945 – 1960), Generation X (those born between 1961 – 1980), and Generation Y (those born between 1981 – 2000). In 2013, 7.6% of the total working population were 75 years and older, which lumps both categories together making it very difficult to differentiate Veterans (age 88 and up) and Traditionalist (age 70 and up) (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). “Today’s workplaces have become generational melting pots.”(McDonald, 2008, p. 60). Whereas, a leader can be young enough to be the great-grandchild of their direct reports. These dynamics are attributed to labor shortages, delayed retirement, second careers, and the increased lifespan of today.
Each of these groups differ in more ways than just birth era. Although organizations should not generalize individuals, each of these generations have been shaped by historical, cultural, and social events that shape their categorized individuals’ beliefs, expectations, work ethic, and style (Deloitte, 2012). These different perspectives, styles, and personalities lay the framework for intergenerational conflict which could derail the facilitator’s goal, knowledge transfer. To mitigate this conflict the facilitator must be able to communicate across the multi-generational audience. To do so, he/she must have generational competence.

Defining the Generations
Generational competence, according to Jimenez (2009), is defined as “the behaviors that organizations must make in order to meet the diverse needs of the four generations in today’s workforce – behaviors and approaches around effective communication tools to minimize conflict.”(p. 50) Competence comes from an overall knowledge of the generations. In order to understand the generations, the term generation must be defined. According to AARP (n.d.):
A generation is a group of people who are programmed at the same time in history. During their first, most formative years, they are coded with data about what is right and wrong, good and bad, stylish and unstylish. A generation shares a common set of formative events and trends – headlines and heroes, music and mood, parenting style and education system. As they grow older, they learn and grow. They adjust their behaviors and build their skills. But they generally do not radically change the way they view the world.” (p. 7)
An understanding of each generation helps to minimize intergenerational conflict.

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