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Us vs. Them: Redefining the Multi-Generational Workplace to Inspire Your Employees to Love Your Company, Drive Innovation, and Embrace Change, 1st edition

  • Jeff Havens

Published by Pearson FT Press (June 21st 2015) - Copyright © 2015

1st edition

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  • Forget complex multi-generation models nobody can use!
  • Discover useful solutions rooted in enduring human psychology
  • Improve communication, productivity, loyalty, career planning, and innovation
  • For all executives, HR pros, talent strategists, and entrepreneurs

Millennials. Gen X. Boomers. The “Greatest Generation.” How do you get them all working together? It isn’t nearly as complicated as the “experts” claim. You just need to understand one simple dynamic that’s as old as the human race: there’s us, and there’s everyone else.


Jeff Havens clears away the foolishness so often associated with managing multi-generation workplaces, and gives you a simple, sensible framework for resolving every generational issue you’ll ever face.


Havens shows why workplaces have always presented “us vs. them” dynamics based on age and experience, and always will. Then, he offers practical solutions for specific intergenerational issues associated with loyalty, work ethic, innovation, change, and career advancement.


Ready to get past stereotypes and promote vibrant collaboration across all generations? Then you’re ready for Us vs. Them.


For 30 years, discussions about generational differences at work have grown increasingly complex and frustrating. ”Experts” have identified three, four, now even five distinct workplace generations–each allegedly unique and requiring their own management approach. If you buy all that, then it follows that the more generations you bring aboard, the tougher it is to collaborate productively.


But the conventional wisdom is 100% wrong. It isn’t so complicated–or difficult. In Us vs. Them, Jeff Havens offers a simpler, more intuitive model–and most importantly, actionable solutions. Based on his

internationally acclaimed keynote presentation, Us vs. Them will simplify your workplace in ways you didn’t think were possible.


Think of two generations, not five: Older, more experienced workers and their Younger, less experienced counterparts. Suddenly, you can frame generational issues more sensibly–and find simple solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.


Us vs. Them addresses the root psychological causes of generational tension at work: causes based in the hardwired human tendency to see others as “one of us” or as “one of them.” This dynamic has existed forever, and it always will. Once you understand it, you can learn to manage it…and when another “new generation” comes along, you’ll be ready for them, too!


Simpler, more effective ways to:

  • Motivate employees of all ages
  • Learn from colleagues who think differently from you
  • Inspire more enthusiasm, loyalty, and productivity, especially among new hires
  • Prevent veteran employees from coasting toward retirement
  • Frame change more successfully
  • Promote innovation
  • Plan succession and advancement
  • Accelerate your own career progress


Table of contents

Introduction: Why This Book Needed to Be Written    1


Part One: Simplifying the Picture    11


Chapter 1: Destroying the Four-Generation Myth    13

Generational Differences Throughout the Ages    15

How Marketing Created the “Multigenerational Workforce”    17

So How Does This Relate to the Generational Question?    19

The Four (Totally Invented) Generations in Today’s Workplace    21

The Two Major Problems with the Four-Generation Model    24

Chapter 2: The Two-Generation Model    37

And...Your Point?    38

Generation Us and Generation Them    41

Us vs. Them, the Professional Version    45

How the Us/Them Dynamic Operates    46

Chapter 3 Consolidating Generational Arguments (or, Let the Stereotypes Begin!)    53

Two Visions of the Future        63

Part Two: Solving the Problem    71


Chapter 4: On the Nature of Loyalty and Its Effect on Work Ethic    73

The Importance of Loyalty    75

Are Today’s Younger Workers Really Less Loyal Than Previous Generations?    76

How Is This Possible?    81

What Is Dunbar’s Number, and Why Should I Care?    82

The Rise of the Internet and Its Effect on the Desire for Loyalty    84

The Search for Connection Goes Global    88

So if All This Is True, Why Do Young People Seem Less Loyal?    92

Loyalty Is a Two-Way Street    94

What We Used to Hear About Work, and What We’re Hearing Now    98

What Does This All Mean?    101

So What Can You Do?    106

Chapter 5: On The Pace of Career Advancement (In Any Career)    115

A Secret About Every Old Person You Work With    119

Experience, Experience, Experience    121

The 10,000-Hour Rule (Which Is a Lie but Gets the Point Across Anyway)    123

Advancement Is a Process    125

Quiz: Show Me The Money!!!    126

And Now, Something for Old People    130

The One Thing Technology Can’t Improve    131

How This Causes Tension    134

Advancement Never Stops    135

What You Can Do    140

Chapter 6: On the Tension Between Stasis and Innovation    153

The Reason Old People Like Doing Things the Way They’ve Always Done Them...    156

So Why Are Young People So Eager to Change All the Time?    162

The Causes (and Consequences) of Complacency    166

The Challenge    168

What You Can Do to Inspire Deliberate Practice    170

Chapter 7: Deciding How (or Whether) to Implement a Change    179

What Does Fashion Have to Do with Changes in My Business?    181

Why Some People Resist New Ideas    183

And Now, the Other Side of the Coin    189

So What Can You Do?    193

Chapter 8: From Them to Us    205


Part Three: Key Concepts and Strategies    219


Chapter 9: How to Talk to Someone Significantly Older or More Experienced Than You Are    221

Step 1: Expect Some Condescension from Them    222

Step 2: Let Them Do Most of the Talking    222

Step 3: Praise Anything You Hear That Sounds Intelligent    223

Step 4: Ask a Lot of Questions    223

Step 5: Expect Some Frustration    223

Step 6: Focus on Improving the Business    224

Chapter 10: How to Talk to Someone Significantly Younger or Less Experienced Than You Are    225

Step 1: Expect Some Impatience from Them    226

Step 2: Temper Their Impatience by Showing Them Why They Need to Slow Down    226

Step 3: Expect Them to Become Frustrated and Empathize with Them    227

Step 4: Point Out the Positive Elements of Every Idea Before Focusing on the Negative Elements    227

Step 5: Point Out the Potential Problems    227

Step 6: Empower Your Young or Inexperienced

Colleague to Address the Issues Brought Up in Step 5    228

Chapter 11: How Our Motivations Change as We Age    229


Chapter 12: Summary of Main Points    233


Chapter 13: Summary of Strategies    237


Index    241

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