Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Work integration

I’m fortunate in my job in that I get to partner with amazing colleagues, and business leaders on the cutting edge. Yesterday, I had lunch with one of them.

One of the topics we discussed was the changing world of work, and how technology impacts that world.

It’s a given that technology is here to stay, and isn’t going away. Amazingly, the issue of computer literacy continues to be a problem, as in too many job seekers really don’t have the requisite technology skills to succeed in today’s technologically-driven world.

While many assume that this is more a generational issue, I’m finding that even younger job seekers, most often perceived as most comfortable with technology, know how to convert that comfort into skills required in the world of work. Knowing how to surf the web isn’t a skill most businesses are looking for.

Certainly, a generational case could be made that younger workers generally have better technology skills than older workers, and that multi-tasking is a way of life for them. At the same time, despite their intuitive grasp of technology, studies indicate that they might be lacking in other essential skills.

I think it’s possible to integrate younger workers’ traits and work styles into established company cultures. In fact, it behooves all of us to make sure that we do, while at the same time, making sure that younger workers learn essential skills; how to communicate clearly and concisely (preferably using proper grammar, or a close approximation), know how to fit in with the team, can manage conflict appropriately, and understand why your company has the policies and procedures that it does. Younger workers could also learn a few tricks from their older colleagues about networking (as in face-to-face, not web-based), and the importance of it.

While I recognize the generational differences in today’s workforce, I also believe that it’s advantageous, and essential, particularly with the right kind of leadership facilitating the integration.

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