I just finished conducting a three day manager skills workshop for today’s leaders.  One of the topics that came up was the issue of respect. Some of the Baby Boomer managers were frustrated with the new workforce. They commented that there wasn’t any “respect.”  They then continued that they always respected their bosses, elders, and older family members. While they may not have agreed with the decisions these older people made, or how how they did things… respect was never an issue, and they always went with the plan because of respect.

The frustration communicated is that the younger generation (Generations X and Y) don’t seem to respect manager’s decisions, and willingly “go with the program.”  One manager commented that his “younger” employees openly challenge his decisions, even willingly go against what he wants them to do.

This is very interesting. According to the research I’ve conducted on respect,   this line of thinking is “old.” And the old rules no longer apply to the younger workforce. Respect is a TWO-WAY street. The younger generations expect you to respect them, their ideas, and what they can bring to the workplace. These younger generations have told me that if they feel that they are not being respected… do not expect them to respect you.  Managers can no longer count on “carte blanche” when it come to respect.

The younger generations know that they do not have the workplace “knowledge” or experience of the older generations….however that does NOT mean that they don’t have anything valuable to offer the workplace. Many commented that they have excellent decision making/ problem solving skills and just because they don’t have the “years of experience” doesn’t mean their contributions are not valuable.

One must remember that the younger generations have been asked their opinions before they were in  preschool. The computer games they’ve been playing has taught them problems solving and decision making skills. Think about it… whether it is “Angry Birds” or “Plants vs Zombies,” these players learn how to solve problems so they can win. These younger generations bring these problem solving skills with them to the workplace. For a manager not to ask for their opinion or to shrug off or not consider their contribution is seen by this younger group as a lack of respect.

If you want respect, learn to respect others… even if they are new to the job.

Yes, respect is a two way street.