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If you’d like more flexibility for all generations in work arrangements and the criteria for how work is evaluated, raise your hand.  OK – I see you out there.

A recent national survey of 1,000 employers by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute found that while progress is being made in flexibility, facetime still counts for a lot in internal dynamics and perceptions of productivity.

The study found that organizations offer flexibility arrangements motivated by a variety of reasons:

  • 35% for employee retention
  • 14% for recruitment
  • 12% to increase productivity
  • 11% because “it’s the right thing to do”
  • 10% to support worker morale and job satisfaction.

In your opinion, what’s the best reason?


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Rosella Young

Hello. I was introduced to your web site by The NierenBlog. Very interesting. I do have an experience to share and after scanning all the blog articles, I think this one may most fit the situation. I'm a baby boomer. The young lady I was training is a GenerationX. While training her, she constantly would say something off the wall and then say she was joking. She said she had a very good memory and didn't need to write anything down. I believed her and trusted her; didn't push the issue. After I returned from lunch, I told her certain things were her priority no matter what. She said her supervisor gave her something to do. Even after I explained that she would have to put it aside to do her priority, she said her supervisor wanted this out first. So she just didn't get what I was communicating or maybe again she was joking and I didn't get the joke. I got so frustrated that I had to leave the scene and took a break. When I came back, she was doing the priority. I decided to continue training her with how I did things and was taught to do the daily duties. I gave her outlines and notes. I tried to ignore her "everything is a joke" comments. I found this training to be very frustrating for me. I also found myself being a little resentful. I decided that I gave her the best tools to work with and what transpires after I leave was no longer my problem. So I was able to leave in peace. However, I still wonder how I could have dealt with this situation better without being so emotional about it. The training itself was so easy. I thought this would be a piece of cake. Boy, it was anything but. I chalked it up to I need better communication skills. Thank you for your time in this matter. Take care. Rosella Young, AA-1 Designs, Invest in your shelf!

Phyllis Weiss Haserot

Rosella – thank you for your comment and story. Raising questions and discussing them will help us all to solve them.

The episode you described seems to be more a situation of difference of personal behavioral styles rather than simply a generational issue. The generational aspect could be that Gen Xers, to generalize, like to do things their own way and when they want to and not be micro-managed. Since this was training, it was not a matter of micro-managing. The woman you were training may have felt she was in a difficult position because she was given two tasks, one from her supervisor and one from you to be completed at the same time. Making her little jokes might be her way of alleviating the pressure or insecurity she was feeling. (For example, we know that frequently the best comedians are successful because of their insecurity.)

All of this is speculation on my part since I have not had any interactions with any of the parties involved in your story. What jumps out as the biggest problem is how you let it affect yourself strongly emotionally. That also could be a matter of your personal behavioral style, but you can try to modify that.

Before communicating in a perplexing situation, we need to try to diagnose what is going on to produce the attitudes and behaviors of other people we deal with. It may be a generational attribute or personal style or prior experience or the culture of an organization or other things. Once we understand that, it is easier to figure out how to communicate in a way – the media, the words and non-verbal communication – that will get through to the recipient to produce the desired result. Often the best way to start is to ask in an interested and non-threatening way.

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