Each generation has its strengths and weaknesses. That young people and older people literally do not always understand each other is a conflict that is as old as mankind itself. Quotes like “The youth of today!” or “In former times everything was better!” are spoke quite often. We want to analyse exactly this complex topic, that can – especially in companies develop an explosive nature and show you possible solutions.

Generation gap between young and old:
Generation gaps play an important part in companies, as they have to find a way to harmonize the needs and opinions of people from different generations. Besides that, companies have to be aware about the demographic changes of their customer base as age specific differences may have a drastic impact on the business development and the whole business cycle. That older people and younger people cooperate and make a meaningful contribution in a company is a good thing. But, as already mentioned, this can lead to tensions between the different generations, again and again. Older employees were often raised to respect the company and a strict hierarchy as well as to be proud to work harder than anybody else. Working overtime is self-evident and has not to be questioned. Here, the so called ‘Millenials’ often show a different approach.

How do generation gaps develop?
‘The youth of today loves luxury, shows bad manners and despises authority. They contradict their parents, cross their legs and bully their teachers.’ (Sokrates, 470-399 B. C.) This quote from Sokrates shows, that the ghost ‚Generation gap‘ has been haunting civilization for quite a while. But how do generation gaps develop that can have a tremendous impact on a company?
The development of a generation gap is comprehensible: Besides the individual impact everybody is shaped by the time he grew up and the time he actually lives in. Usually, a company is composed of employees that belong to different generations. Older employees bring usually experience and stability to the table while younger employees come with new approaches and ideas.

The different generations in a company
Younger generations have often been raised by two working parents and value conpatibility of work and family – they live for themselves not for their job. This is especially the case for the ‘Generation Y’ that was born between 1982 and 2002. While the changes of the digital age posed no problem for these ‚digital natives’, as they grew up with the internet, older people had to adapt to this new technology. ‘Generation X’ who are in between the young and the old do not tend to one of the extremes and just want to do their job without standing out. These employees that were born between the mid-sixties and 1980 often have become the glue between the old and the young generation in the company. Of course, these are stereotypes, but they are often the reality of a company.

Generation gap – especially difficult in family businesses
That this mix of generations can be an advantage on the one hand and prove difficult on the other lies in the matter of things. The ideas of the older generation may sound dusty and outdated to members of Generation Y while the ‚crazy ideas’ of the young generation my not be comprehended by the older generation. Generation Y often proves to be a riddle for the older colleagues. In family businesses this explosive starting position is often mixed up with personal emotions that have the potential to escalate the situation and cause huge difficulties in the daily business. Each age group tries to push their ideas through which can lead to a situation where they get stuck in their generation gap.

Mediation in a generation gap:
By realizing, understanding and valuing the differences conflicts cannot be just avoided, but values and chances can be obtained by putting the differences to an advantage at work. Especially in family businesses mediation makes sense as impartiality is observed.
Often the people involved in the conflict within a family business are even related: The father, a member of the ‘Baby Boomer’-generation, is leading the company and wants to run the business according to its hierarchy and traditional values. The son on the other hand, a member of the ‚Generation Y’, wants to modernize processes and introduce new modes of work: Work-Life-Balance shall be improved and hierarchies made flatter. Both are stuck in their point of view and do not talk to each other, but do not catch the meaning of the other. Even if the two positions seem to be incompatible, they often bear solution potentials that can be uncovered by a mediation.

What is mediation and how does it work?
A mediator mediates between the different parties of a conflict. Different from the regularly found perception a mediator is no lawyer, but completely impartial in his attitude. Mediation is a procedure in which the conflicting parties discuss their arguments with the assistance of an experienced impartial third party that supports them in the reconciliation of their differences. Usually it is an informal meeting of the conflict parties with the mediator that leads to the best possible common solution for the conflicting parties.

Generation gap -Support by a third party:
Especially in a generation gap in a family business I am the ideal contact person for your needs as they demand besides a special approach and a lot of tact a fair share of experience. As son of a farmer, agricultural scientist and cultural anthropologist I have a well-founded background for my work as specialist for mediation in family businesses and am able to grasp the point of view of each party without taking sides.
Due to my versatile work in the past I have gained a lot of insight into family businesses in Germany and abroad and have often been asked to mediate in conflicts so that the work as a mediator did not just become a job but a vocation.
For me the solution stands at the centre and should be shaped in a way that all parties can happily agree. If you look for support in a generation gap, I would love to help in finding the solution and am looking forward to your call.

Make an appointment for a first free preliminary, now to get to know each other and figure out, if a mediation is a useful option in your case under the phone number 0049 – 160 – 76 25 61 8

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