UNDER ONE ROOF
Managing Across Generations and Cultures
BY MARIA MORUKIAN
In 700 B.C., the Greek poet Hesiod wrote, “I see no hope for the future of our people if they
are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.
When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are
exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”
Nearly three millennia ago, Hesiod wrote about diversity.
To this day, we continue to face challenges that generational
differences create. Do any of the following comments sound
familiar? “They think they’re entitled to everything.” “They’re
such dinosaurs, they can’t see the world has changed.” “They
are always challenging me, even though I have seniority.”
“They never want to listen to any new ideas I have.” Across all
generations, you may hear, “They don’t respect me.”
Immense advancements in technology, the rise in international mobility, and changes in demographics have contributed
to a more diverse workforce. Individuals are living longer,
healthier, and more active lives, and are staying in the workforce
longer. All of these changes contribute to a workplace that is
immensely diverse, with people who have different ways of viewing the world, understanding their colleagues, and perceiving
the impact of their own behaviors and actions. Workplace chal-
lenges are bound to occur when people from different generations work side-by-side. Simple misinterpretations often result
in individuals feeling devalued, disrespected, or misunderstood.
Culture refers to the way we learn to interpret and give
meaning to the world based on shared values, attitudes, traditions, history, language, belief systems, and communication
styles of the communities with which we primarily identify.
A generation can be defined as a cultural group comprised of
people born in a certain era who may share values, attitudes,
and behaviors based on similar experiences and world events
that occur in their lifetimes.
It is important to note that within any generation multiple
cultures exist; and within any culture, multiple generations
exist. No matter what culture, ethnicity, race, gender, or
religion a person represents, age plays a huge role in the way
people communicate and understand one another.