The Great Divide in Today’s Workforce…and How to Deal With It.
There is a great chasm in our culture. This is the reason fifty-five-year-old bosses are clueless when it comes to motivating and dispatching their younger workforce. This is why parents feel adrift when communicating with their pre-teen and teenage children. This is why we don’t get along.
What causes this? It is the cultural divide between Modernists and Post-Modernists.
In case these are terms with which you’re unfamiliar, let me give you the basics. The facts are these. If you were born before the latter twentieth century, you grew up in the age of Modernity. By definition, you are a Modernist. You were born in a time that was influenced by the Age of Reason (or, Enlightenment) that dates back to the early 1700s. This was an era that put high value on reason and promoted the idea of liberty. Modernists grew up believing that if one stacks enough facts on top of one another—one will come to a clear and incontrovertible conclusion. And what’s more, it doesn’t really matter how one feels about that conclusion. Modernists believe in absolute values.
On the other hand, for those born in the late twentieth century and beyond, you have grown up in the Post-Modern age. Post-Modernists reject the beliefs of the Modernists. Instead, they embrace the belief that there is no absolute truth, “if it feels good—do it.” They say to Modernists, “If you really do have the truth, why don’t you act more lovingly and gently toward others?”
Frankly, I believe both sides are right…and both sides are wrong. I do believe there is such a thing as absolute truth…absolutely! However, I am sensitive to Post-Modernists who criticize Modernists for what they perceive to be an attitude of arrogant self-righteousness.
As an individual who has trained a lot of leaders, here’s what I’ve learned: It is always a mistake to sell out on your convictions in order to be popular with younger people. They will grow to loathe you. But it is also critical to listen. Simply listen. Think. Then respond with clarity, truth, and courage.