Monday, November 10th, 2008

New study explains the management gap and offers hope of a solution

- Boomers misled by X/Y’s openness that belies a lack of trust

Working with the über-cool X & Y generations is often an insurmountable challenge for the older manager. Boomer bosses complaints about X/Y workers are legendary, the stuff of many indignant long-lunch conversations. Now a new study by web-based applicant management solutions company Expr3ss! sheds light on the reason and offers hope of a solution.

The Expr3ss! study, released today, shows that the stereotypical outgoing, open, socially-networked younger worker is not necessarily all that he or she seems. The results of the study showed that, with X/Y’s levels of friendship and help-seeking behaviours more than 20% higher than average, and Boomers 15% less, younger workers outscore their Boomer equivalents by 300%. But the study also showed that this hides a level of distrust in younger workers that is nearly three times that of those they typically work under, along with significant levels of oppositional behaviour that peak in 24 - 29 year olds. ( See chart at )

The generational trend identified by the study highlights why older supervisors and managers struggle to work productively with younger employees, and explains why the typical Boomer struggles to manage effectively and to understand why. Boomers on average are 55% more trusting than they are friendship and help-seeking, whereas their younger colleagues are much more friendship and help-seeking than they are trusting, to the extent of a massive 400%.

"A fatal dislocation in relationships and communication exists between the younger and older worker", says Dr Glyn Brokensha, Joint Managing Director of Expr3ss!. "This dislocation means that each will respond in their own preferred style, which is exactly the opposite of what the other expects and needs. Boomer managers mistakenly assume that the strong friendship and help-seeking behaviours of younger employees are evidence of high trust, whereas exactly the reverse is true."

Brokensha says that, from the younger worker's perspective, the relative lack of friendship-seeking and help-seeking behaviours in their seniors is taken as evidence of lack of trust and, worse, lack of trustworthiness. Boomer managers fail to work at building trust in their relationships with younger workers because they mistakenly believe it already exists. And younger employees fail to communicate their intrinsic levels of distrust because their natural friendship-seeking and help-seeking behaviours obscure the true picture.

"Boomer managers and X/Y employees enter a deadly interlock where each assumes that what they see in the other is evidence of that which does not actually exist.", states Brokensha.

"Boomers assume that X/Ys have levels of trust even higher than their own, because of their friendship-seeking and help-seeking natures. And X/Ys assume that Boomers are untrusting and, worse, untrustworthy because they lack those very same friendship and help-seeking characteristics. Unlocking that struggle is the key"

Expr3ss! helps hiring businesses choose new employees more effectively by identifying "will-do" attitudes and people who will "fit-to" the role in question, avoiding the trap of fixating simply on skills. "Our clients were telling us they needed help simplifying their hiring processes," states Brokensha. "We launched Expr3ss! in 2006 with this objective in mind and as a result our clients streamlined and reduced their hiring costs, improved time-efficiency, speed-to-hire and retention." Now their longer-term customers are reporting that knowing more about the characteristics of their new hires and their existing staff has become a vital tool in managing effectively, especially across the generational divide.

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Expr3ss!® is a web-based applicant management solution enabling employers to prioritise candidate job applications and communicate with applicants easily and quickly, improving time-efficiency and reducing costs through "better people intelligence®". Expr3ss! ... makes recruitment a breeze!®
Carolyne Burns
P: 1800 00 55 98


New study explains the management gap and offers hope of a solution


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