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When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work Paperback – March 4, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lancaster and Stillman, partners in a consulting firm, tackle a potential conflict in the workplace: disparities in age may lead people to see situations differently. The authors divide the workforce into four categories: Traditionalists, born between 1900 and 1945; Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964; Gen-Xers, 1965-1980; and Millennials, born after 1980; these temporal and social demarcations show where conflicts may lie. This book, like the consultants' mission statement, "bridge[s] the gap between generations by helping people look beyond their own perspectives." No matter how well intentioned, this approach ensures a few inherent problems. Stereotyping is a danger when characterizing groups this large, and the authors don't always avoid the trap. Is it really accurate, for example, to say that Millennials are unique in wanting their work to have value? But the bigger problem is that an initial premise is questionable. The authors say, "Finding common ground with members of our own generation at work is relativity easy," but if it were, there wouldn't be a need for diversity training. And as any manager can attest, people can be difficult no matter what their age. Acknowledging that people of various ages see things differently is worthwhile. However, Lancaster and Stillman disappoint in failing to supply specifics for what to do about those differences. Agent, Sandy Dijkstra.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The concept of workplace diversity has come to embrace ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and more. Lancaster and Stillman, founding partners of BridgeWorks consulting firm, ask us to consider yet another category: generational differences. The generations they allude to are "Traditionalists" (1900-45), "Baby Boomers" (1946-64), "Generation Xers" (1965-80), and "Millennials" (1981-99), and they are interested in how members of each group interact in contemporary work settings. According to the authors, employee productivity is the key to success in the new economy, and given the difficulties employers have in recruiting, training, motivating, and managing their workforce, understanding multigenerational differences in the workplace could result in success or failure. The authors fully describe each generation and explore the problems each might encounter in work settings. Combining practical, how-to exercises with examples of companies that have used generational differences to their advantage, this is a book every corporate human resources department would want on the bookshelf. Unfortunately, given how the economy has changed recently, it may be something that is largely expendable at this time. Recommended for management collections. Richard Drezen, Washington Post, New York City Bureau
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066621070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066621074
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Don Blohowiak, PhD on July 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Review of When Generations Collide
The Book's Thesis: If you work with people from other generations, you need to understand that conflicting perspectives between the generations can generate workplace conflict.
Obviously, this is an old theme. There are plenty of quotable inter-generational digs and barbs recorded in the earliest writings of antiquity.
More recently, during my youth in the tumultuous late 1960s and early '70s, we spoke openly and frequently about the "generation gap."
This perennial topic has been treated seriously by credible writers in other business books over the past decade. (I have penned a few articles on it in recent years as well.)
Of the books on this now familiar theme, this one takes a less statistical and analytical approach in favor of a more anecdotal slant on the topic.
Lancaster, a Baby Boomer, and Stillman, a Gen Xer, are business partners who write in a chatty style. They lace their broad observations about generations with illustrations derived from their own personal lives. Often, they make their point by telling stories about the conflicts between the two of them---which they blame on their age difference.
And they never miss an opportunity to remind you that they speak and give seminars on this topic. While those frequent reminders border on annoying, the authors do not seem to be indulging in crass commercialism---search all you want and you won't find information in the book about contacting the author-consultants to purchase their services.
Instead, speechmaking (and speech coaching to the likes of pop business pontificator Harvey Mackay, who penned the book's anemic Foreword) seems to define the authors' rather limited frame of reference in the business world.
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75 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Nero J. Pruitt on May 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In 1991, William Strauss and Neil Howe published "Generations", a book which asserted the existence of a generational personality. Since that time, theorists in the Human Resource field have attempted to apply this notion to the world of work. Authors trying to make this connection included Ron Zemke, Claire Raines and others. These books follow a typical pattern:
Step 1: Generations are defined as those Americans born between two selected years. The Baby Boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964 or, by other accounts 1943 and 1960, usually is the anchor.
Step 2: Major societal events occurring in the formative years of these generations are cited as forces shaping a personality of these age cohorts which stays with them throughout life.
Step 3: The difference between generations is claimed to be a major diversity concern affecting American businesses.
"When Generations Collide" by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman follows this pattern. In my view, this is an awful book, flawed on these and other counts:
1. It describes as a generational cohort (sometimes as one generation, sometimes as two) Americans born between 1900 and 1945. This is a mammoth grouping, about which it is difficult to make any meaningful generalizations. To lump together these people, born over several decades, and to proceed to describe a common personality is arrogant. Some of these people came of age during World War I, others during the Cuban Missle Crisis. This large-scale approach is also contrary to the more discrete groupings made by other generational commentators.
2. Lancaster and Stillman describe generational personalities quite differently than other commentators. They describe the Americans born between 1900 and 1945 as "God-fearing, hardworking and patriotic.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dr. F. G. Turner on April 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For the first time in the U.S. history, we have four separate generations working side-by-side. They are the Traditionalists, Baby boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Y. While there is really no magic birth date that makes one a member of a specific generation, one's experience and sharing of history helps shape a `generational personality' during their formative years. This is a must-read book as `one-size' does not fit each generation's needs in terms of benefits, working hours, places of employment, methods of training/motivation and retention.
With four generations in the work system, misunderstandings happen. Additionally, progressive organizations are realizing they need to develop new recruiting procedures, create new compensation,benefit and retention strategies to attract and retain the best of the four diverse groups in the work system. When generational collisions occur, it results in reduced profitability, presents hiring challenges, increased turnover rates, and decreased morale. Understanding the various generational identities will help in building bridges in the work environment. The book authors, Lancaster and Stillman, describe for the reader the four generational personalities and provide suggestions regarding rewards/retention/motivatational techniques that appeal to each generation. Briefly, the four generations are defined:
Traditionalists were born between the turn of the last century and the end of World War II (1900-1945) and they number about 5M in population. The Traditionalists were impacted by two World Wars and the Great Depression. They learned to do without and the management style they learned came from the military - a top-down, boot-camp method. They were cautious, obedient. and spoke when spoken to.
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