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Human Resources Management analysis

 
Human Resources Management
The Children’s Museum—
A Place ofTradition
Established in 1902 and located in a major metropolitan area, the Children’s Museum is a place where children from preschool to high school can engage in educational experiences through exhibits, interactive programs and the museum’s impressive collection. The museum encourages children to develop an understanding of and respect for themselves, others and the world around them by exploring cultures, the arts, science and the environment. Currently, the museum is undergoing an expansion that will nearly double the exhibit space and make it a “green” museum. The new museum wing will be built with environmentally friendly construction materials and will be used, in part, to house a unique “green globe” exhibit that promotes conservation and innovation in ecological preservation.

The museum employs an international staff and there is significant emphasis on inclusion in the organizational culture. Recently, however, a new diversity issue has come to the forefront, and both management and staff feel tested in dealing with the emerging challenge with the same level of integrity, fairness and equity that are time-honored at the museum. For the first time since its inception, the museum has become a four-generation workplace. Ranging in age from 18 to 82, all employees are becoming cognizant of the differing needs, skills, beliefs, values, perspectives and paradigms of each generation. Simmering under the organization’s radar for more than a decade, recognition of these differences became unavoidable when meetings started taking place to plan the exhibits and programs for the Green Globe space of the new wing.
Going Green Turns Faces Red

The museum’s president, Maya Zam, unveiled the initial plans for the new wing to the museum’s staff with the enthusiasm characteristic of the children that the expansion would serve. “The new wing will be home to nine permanent exhibits and two special exhibits,” she explained as she projected the architect’s three-dimensional designs onto the big screen behind her. At the end of the virtual tour through the 11 exhibit spaces, Ms. Zam invited comments and questions from the museum’s staff.

“It is really big, huge in fact, when you consider that we are nearly doubling our floor space with this expansion,” volunteered a tour guide from the middle of the room. The speaker, a woman named Kate, was the museum’s most tenured employee. At 82, Kate remained alert and focused although her gait had not kept up with the quickness of her wit. “And where are the seating areas for each exhibit space?’
“Seating?” asked Hans, a 35-year-old curator. “Why would each space need seating? The children need to be active while they are here. It’s great exercise for them. I like the wide-open spaces we will have in the new wing. Children can move quickly from one activity to another without impediment.”

“And what are their parents, grandparents and great grandparents who bring them to the museum supposed to do when they get tired?” Kate asked. “You have a point,” Maya responded. “We need to assure that everyone who comes to the museum has their basic wants and needs met while they are here. I am going to assign a team to each of the exhibit areas to critique the plans for each space and offer suggestions for any modifications to the current plans to make them more generation-friendly.”

“Should we consider the needs of both our internal and external customers, museum visitors and the staff of each area when considering customer wants and needs?” queried Anna, a 48-year-old production assistant. “Please do,” Maya answered. “Are interns welcome to participate on the project teams?” asked Robert, a 19-yearold student. “Of course,” replied Maya. “We should have representation from each generation to create an environment that is conducive to people of all ages.”
The Green Globe Project Team

A week later, the project team for the Green Globe exhibit area met for the first time. Kate, Anna, Hans and Robert were pleased to find themselves participating. Four more members rounded out the project team of eight. Sam, age 54, Raja, age 27, Jan, age 65, and Ian, age 40, settled in for what was sure to be a spirited debate.

“Age is just a number,” said Ian. “I am not sure why a generational focus is necessary to plan the Green Globe exhibit. People of all ages need to participate in saving our planet.” “You say that now,” Jan chimed in, “but you may see it differently when you get to be my age. I think that each generation has a slightly different role and responsibility in restoring and maintaining the ecosystems that support life on

Earth.”

Additional Information

Below is information that will assist you in understanding and analyzing the differences among the generations represented in the case scenario above:

Traditionalists (also known as the Silent Generation, Veterans, Matures) born before 1945: Thisgeneration’s members prize loyalty and prefer a top-down approach to management. They view information as something that should be provided on a need-to-know basis.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): This generation’s members are characterizedby their optimism andidealism. They achieved success by challenging authority and creating open lines of communication.

Generation X (born 1965-1980): This group tends to be more skeptical than members of othergenerations. Many were latchkey kids or the products of broken homes and grew up in a time of political and corporate scandals. As a result, they often distrust institutions and prize individualism.

 

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Millennials (also known as Generation Y, Echo Boomers, Net Gen, Nexters, Generation Why) born

1980-1994: Even as this generation enters the workforce, their personalities are already emerging. Forstarters, these young workers recognize that not only will they change employers throughout their career, they will change the type of work they do.

We Meet Again

Two days later, the team met again to continue their work. “I was thinking that maybe we could get more done if we stopped meeting and communicated by e-mail,” said Hans.

“Whatever happened to the ‘high tech, high touch’ work environment where we integrate technology with face-to-face interaction?” Jan wondered.

“It’s just that we aren’t very organized,” Hans responded. “Our team recommendations are due in two weeks, and so far we haven’t even looked at the exhibit design.”

“I think we have to become a generationally responsive team before we can create a more generationally friendly space,” said Anna. “Once we understand each other better, we can use the shared knowledge to create a more inclusive exhibit.”

“Maybe this will help,” Raja offered. “Last night I was doing some additional research on generational differences, and I found that a leading HR consulting firm conducted a study on how to remove generational barriers to productivity at work.”

NOTE: the article and survey results are included below for your information and analysis.

Bridging the Generation Gap at Work

August 30, 2004
A new survey finds that 40 percent of human resource (HR) professionals have observed conflict among employees as a result of generational differences. In organizations with 500 or more employees, 58 percent of HR professionals reported conflict between younger and older workers, largely due to differing perceptions of work ethic and work/life balance.

“Organizations recognize that the expertise and unique perspectives of a diverse work force can contribute to the success of a company,” said a President and CEO of a leading major corporation. “HR professionals can help managers and employees use communication and training to remove generational barriers to enhance the effectiveness and productivity of their diverse work force and improve the overall success of the organization.”

This “2004 Generational Differences Survey” asked HR professionals about employees from different generations working together, the quality of their work, types of conflicts, retention factors, and strengths and weaknesses of each generation. The survey identified four generations: veterans, those born before 1945; baby-boomers, born from 1945 to 1964;
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Generation X (Gen-Xers), born from 1965 to 1980; and Nexters (also known as Millennials, or Generation Y), born after 1980.

Overall, HR professionals are generally positive about relationships among the generations, with half saying they work effectively together and 27 percent saying the quality of work frequently improves with a variety of generational perspectives. However, 28 percent of HR professionals said conflict among generations had increased over the last five years and 33 percent expect it to increase over the next five.

Nearly a quarter of HR professionals say differences over acceptable work hours are the primary sources of conflict, which reflects different perceptions of work ethic and benefits like telecommuting and flextime. Frequently, these complaints came from older workers about younger employees’ willingness to work longer hours. Past research finds that work/life balance is among the most important job-satisfaction factors for younger employees and is typically not as important among older workers.

HR professionals use many methods for managing a diverse work force, according to the survey. A vast majority said communicating company information in multiple ways, including e-mail, one-on-one discussions and meetings is extremely effective. In addition, HR professionals said that training managers to address generational differences, offering teambuilding activities and developing mentoring programs to encourage workers of different generations to work together also are effective in managing an intergenerational work force.

Forty-two percent of HR professionals said their organization had lost Gen-Xers and Nexter employees who believed they could not advance in their careers because veterans and baby-boomers held top positions. HR professionals reported implementing succession-planning programs, offering training or increasing compensation in order to retain younger workers.

“There is a lot of good information here,” said Anna. “Maybe we should come up with a communication plan for our team that incorporates some of the suggestions in the survey.”

“Done,” said Ian. “Let’s put a cross-generational team together and come up with a communication structure that respects our diverse needs and gets this project underway.”
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INSTRUCTIONS: Please consider all the information as provided in the case study and use your powersof analysis to synthesize the information. Often times decision-makers are asked to pronounce judgment or develop a resolution to a situation with scant information. Please limit your responses to no more than five typed pages per question using Times New Roman, 12 pt font, single space—beconcise and brief. Save your response as an MS Word document or pdf format.

Good luck and happy holidays!

 

The table below is for your reference to assist you in identifying the characters in the case and their respective generations:

The Green Globe Team

Name Age Generation
Kate 82 Traditionalist
Hans 35 Gen-X
Anna 48 Baby Boomer
Robert 19 Millennial
Sam 54 Baby Boomer
Raja 27 Millennial
Jan 65 Traditionalist
Ian 40 Gen-X
1. 1. Do you believe the descriptions given for the generations above are accurate? (see pages 2-3) Please state the evidence that supports your answer.

2. Do you believe that the survey results were accurate? Why or why not?

3. If you were a member of the Green Globe Team, how would you structure the team’s communications to ensure that project deadlines are met and that the communication methods utilize the strengths and preferences of each team member?
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