The Generation Gap Challenges IT Managers

The generation gap has always made its presence felt at the office. The old guard inching toward retirement mixes with the “new kids” fresh out of college and several subsets in between, each walking in with their own sets of beliefs, priorities and approaches to work.

But a confluence of factors, most notably an aging work force and the arrival on the scene of Generation Y, have made that gap seem wider and deeper today than ever before and it is in the IT departments of the enterprise—which are left dealing with the user habits and adoption rates of the rest of the payroll—where the generation gap is often most pronounced. “IT is an industry that has just reached a point where it is old enough to have intergenerational conflicts. The industry itself it just 40 years old,” Forrester principal Phil Murphy says.

Making the mix work means changing a workplace’s culture: a prolonged process, but a necessary one. Shifts are needed in perceptions of both older and younger workers are perceived (such as that Baby Boomers don’t want to learn new technologies) and it is essential to keep in mind that there is more to an IT population than those nearest to retirement and those newest to the organization, even if they are the most noticeable groups.

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