How do Generational Differences Play into Career Planning?

Lately I’ve had conversations with my customers about how to make Individual Development Plans more robust.  Some of the opportunities they’ve identified are:

  • Creating an environment where trust is present and conversations about what career path employees want to take are authentic.
  • Effectively diagnosing and collaborating on identifying developmental priorities.
  • Balancing goals between organizational and individual needs and wants.
  • Remembering to look at both the short and long term.
  • Setting goals and action plans that will create break-through performance.
  • Following up frequently enough to ensure accountability and traction.

The other interesting dynamic that has become a topic of conversation:  How do the generational differences play into career planning?

This topic has really sparked my interest.  As a result, I have been doing a bit of research on the generations.  I haven’t formed a strong opinion yet about how Generation Y differs from Generation X in terms of developing IDPs, but I am gathering some information that is causing me to delve deeper into some specific areas.

For example, this week some of the research articles I’ve posted on Facebook and LinkedIn, uncover some of the myths that exist in terms of Generation Y.  Many of these myths I’ve heard articulated by Managers during discussions on how to coach for performance.  “These younger employees today don’t want to put in their time…they want my job after a couple of months of experience.”

What value is there for Managers in understanding the generational differences when it comes to career coaching and planning?  I found one nugget so far that may be worth exploring about assumptions.

I was listening yesterday to a Podcast interview by the co-author of Passion and Purpose, John Coleman (listen to that Podcast here).  John talked about how best we can harness the skill set of Generation Y.  One example he gave is their ability to offer insight on how to cross boundaries.  He went on to talk about how his research indicates that because of the exposure this generation has had to technology and how quickly they have learned to access information, multi-task, and assimilate that they may be in a unique position to see ways to merge paths that before now would have been seen as unrelated.  He went on to talk about a potential flaw is this generation’s impatience, as they have been programed to move quickly.  Fascinating stuff!

Then I had my big a-ha moment.  John personalized his research by saying, “Our generation,” and I suddenly realized that he was putting himself in the Generation Y bucket.  I was surprised.  I had not thought about him in terms of age, but I realized in that instant that I had made an unconscious assumption. The way he articulated the subject matter, his poise and maturity, had led me to think he was older.

So here I am making assumptions that maturity comes with age.  Of course I consciously know this is not true, but it raises the question:  How do my assumptions impact my confidence in another person’s ability?

Perhaps what my research will uncover is that while we seek to understand others we must also understand our own bias and belief system.  Assumptions are dangerous, especially when you don’t realize you are operating with them!

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Tags: Individual Development Plans, John Coleman, leadership, Blog, career planning, Coaching, generation y, generational differences, idp, Passion and Purpose, Diversity and Inclusion

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