Self-awareness is a very interesting and important topic not only in this concrete subject but in life in general. Self-awareness stands as the extent to which a person is conscious of several aspects of its inner self, and how those perceptions are integrated with the ones other people may have. David V. Day, Stephen J. Zaccaro,Stanley M. Halpin - Leader Development for Transforming Organizations: Growing Leaders for Tomorrow. (2004) Psychology Press.
When looking at generations and how this could be affected by self-awareness, many points appear. We are going to discuss how self-awareness can help a multi-generational labour environment in several ways.
The first point a person should be aware of in this unit is to which generation he/she belongs. Although that type of information may seem dull, knowing it can lead to realising how the way you see things a certain way may have to do with the generation you were born and raised into. When we notice that our concrete ideas depend on things we have lived, it becomes easier to understand other people’s ideas and thoughts, or even to accept that in some ways other opinions may be better than ours. In order to refresh the generation to which you belong, let’s see again the table with the main characteristics of each generation currently in the working force:
Table 3 – Generation work features
|GENERATION Y (MILLENIALS)
|YEARS OF BIRTH
|1946 – 1964
|1965 – 1979
|1975 – 1985
|1980 – 2000
|2001 – 2010
|Work-life balance and independence
|Similar to Generation X
|Value even more work-life balance and independence
|Majority still not on the working force
|Value security and stability
|Most know of technological features
|Look for freedom; want to be treated equally since the first day
|Clearly stated goals and tasks
|Adaptable and resourceful
|No fear to authority, looks for challenges
|Prefer to communicate in person or with phone calls
|Can communicate with technological tools
|High technological knowledge
Of course, being part of a certain generation does not mean entirely agreeing with every descriptor point included on it. However, having knowledge about them can help workers realise what they want and what they can bring to the company, as well as which points they still could learn or improve
Generation self-awareness: hits and misses
Self-awareness of the own generation is not only good to be conscious of how the time you were born may have influenced you and the way people see you, but also to realise the skills you have, and how people from other generations may not have due to the environment they grew in.
Activity 2: Quizzes
Realise the positive inputs that can be given to a team by their own generation, as well as the points that could be improved by learning from other generations.
- Bearing in mind the generation you belong to, which do you believe to be the most important feature of your generation that defines you?
- How do you believe this feature improves your working abilities?
- In which ways do you believe this feature aids something to your workplace?
Hopefully, the information you obtain from your answers will lead you to realise what you can offer as part of your generation. However, there are certain points you may not realise and other generations do, and it is very important to take them into account as well.
It is time now to take a new quiz, to be aware of what you can still learn from others:
- Bearing in mind the generation you belong to, what do you think you should learn to become better at your job or enjoy more your daily work?
- Do you believe there is any generation that has that knowledge you want to get?
- Is there anyone in your organisation belonging to that generation?
As you may have noticed from those two quizzes, self-awareness also allows to realise what you can teach and learn from other people; and that realisation can take you a step closer to establish a positive relationship in which all generations learn from each other.
Self-awareness: know what you want
Another important point related to self-awareness is the ability to know what you want and how you want it and, more importantly, to let people know it as well. As explained at the beginning of this unit, the concept of self-awareness is not only related to knowing one self, but also to the alignment of that perception with the one given to the world. If you think you are aware of who you are but the rest of the world is not, then you are not being as self-aware as you should.
Translated to the needs and preferences of the employers, HR Managers, supervisors, responsible of WBL within the company it is going to be easier to communicate and interact with an employee, and give them what they may need to properly do their job, if they are able to express those needs and preferences. If an employee, for example, belongs to the baby boomers, an employer may think the best way to communicate is by phone instead of email, and will try to do so; however, if this employee is not aware that by receiving notifications by phone he is not absolutely collecting all the information required and he would be better off using email, as employer, apprentice instructors or HR manager you are not going to think about changing that communication channel.