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I am delighted that generational issues are getting attention from people new to the topic. Generational challenges and improving the working relations among the generations has been a passion of mine for over a decade, so it's gratifying to see the interest build.

On the other hand, I am not happy to see people jumping on the bandwagon making blanket statements about generational cohorts as if one's date of birth automatically gives them a set of characteristics that they surely share with peers of their age. I am dead set against stereotyping. Some statements that particularly irk me are: "Generation X were the latchkey kids," as if everyone of that generation came home to empty homes and had to fend for themselves. And that "all Gen Y/Millennials have been coddled and over-protected." Another one is that "All Baby Boomers are going to retire in the next few years." Already it is clear that is not true. In fact there are Boomers as young as 47 years old today, and a large proportion in their 60s now had no intention of retiring anytime soon, even before they saw their nest eggs seriously diminishing in the financial market collapse.

I admit that in my passion for generational wisdom, I have come to filter much of what I hear and read through generational filters. But I am wary of the dangers of stereotypes. Everything is not a generational issue. When one was born is only one of the significant influences on personal behavior, attitudes and values. Typical generational attributes do not apply to everyone in a generational cohort.

Let's remember that while learning and understanding generational attributes and differences is very important for improving productivity, retention, leadership, succession planning and business results, we need to take the time to get to know people as individuals and respect their individuality, whatever generation they are.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com  


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