Cross Generations at the Workplace Series – Point of view 4 – Angela Krenkler
Co-authored by Angela Krenkler and Bert Schulze
Working for SAP for almost two and a half years got me a lot of insights on how it is to collaborate with different people, different believes and mainly with people from different generations in the business context.
I studied Foreign Language Correspondence in English and French at the F+U Academy of Languages in Heidelberg before I started working as Team Assistant to gain my first experience. After one and a half years, I looked for other career opportunities and am now pleased to work for the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Product Management and particularly the Co-Innovation team as Project Associate.
How do I communicate
My day at SAP differs every day. Colleagues ask for assistance in various kind of ways. Skype for Business is one of my main every-day tools for calls and messages. My personal collaboration truly depends on what message I want to transmit. Short messages via chat are perfect for getting responses in real time, e-mails for clarifying and stating but for any relevant or even formal topics, I pick up the phone or even talk to my colleagues in person.
For people from the generation X, it might seem rude or lazy to “ping” someone but if you are used to communicate on a chat-basis, it feels simplified and faster as you get answers immediately and do not interrupt someone’s work or spend minutes on writing emails. For me, this is perfectly in line with SAP´s simplification approach and I never got real push back from receiving people on chat though I experience that more people of my generation leverage this tool and start instant messaging conversations.
What makes me run
For me, supporting family and friends makes me run. To transfer this into my business function really appeals to me. To kick start a project by arranging the fundamental settings is my incentive.
I do not see myself as an analytical person but I can identify the value add in my job and improve knowledge in any provided way which is something that makes me analyze situations. Furthermore, I experience that a pool of people, a collective genius, often gives me many valuable puzzle pieces for me to put together. Therefore, I trust a lot in getting insights noticeably from various people.
Since my early school days, I felt the pressure to conform to certain set expectations in order to perform successfully at my future job and to have a great carrier. Teachers, friends, parents and the media always tell you to grave for more knowledge and to step out of your comfort zone. Many kids in my surroundings were pressured to excel at hobbies that they might not have chosen for themselves and to start other extracurricular activities such as learning new languages over the summer or joining a political club. Media constantly hammer the message that you need to develop yourself and make use of any opportunity to not end up in a low-paid job without career development opportunities. A semester abroad seems to be the necessity whether you agree or disagree. Combined with the unimaginable flow of information on the internet, you might sense why today`s generation is in change mode any time. From my point of view, people do not reflect properly and get constantly pushed by theoretical ideals. This creates stereotypes and even increase the perceived spiral of endless job changes. The reality is much more profane and does not differ much, nevertheless do young people want to outperform their parent generation and do want to make the best out of their work life, but I personally would doubt this genuinely has to do with disloyalty. It is rather the appetite for life and new experiences. And the pressure to develop your career almost from day 1 at school and university transfers this battle into the job where it might have happened during several extra semesters outside in the past.
Social is life is social
With reference to the above and the enormously development of technology, you have to be up to date with your social appearance on the internet whether it is professional or private. Many people use social media to create a perfect view of themselves and master the self-marketing. As a result, influenced people find themselves in a distorted perception adopting the internet appearance. For some people, it might create a positive momentum to get out of their own shell but I think it is as well a dangerous medium. Whatever is posted will stick to people forever as the web does not forget. I am personally using social networks primarily to connect with friends and share my experiences. If you stick to some basic rules and do not post too much, I do see it as a good medium to help stay in touch, but even as a millennial, I have a healthy skepticism left.
During the first years of my business career, I primarily focused on gaining knowledge rather than investing into my professional social media profile. I grew up with digital technology, but the fact that information can be spread even faster and mistakes like typos cannot be corrected once out, makes me stay careful. Nevertheless, do business and private / social media start to grow into each other and of course do I maintain my business intranet profile. Having information anytime, anywhere was unimaginable in the past. In relation to my career, it helped me to e.g. find my current job as it was easy to find on the internet. In my opinion, technology is simplifying life and should not be seen as a threat per se. Technology is imitating nature and nature is also changing and developing every second. So why should I not adopt and benefit from it?
Coming to a conclusion whether my and all other generations are more self-focused, disloyal and may not stick to traditions, I think that all generations have specific views and perception. Already in the past, the former generations were perceived different compared to the own generation and vice versa. I personally experience my colleagues not much different with respect to social media or information management though I might not be a “typical” millennial myself. But aren´t we now talking stereotypes ourselves?
The work as well as the tech environment is changing repetitively which drives the endless cycle of adopt or die – learning from each other and building bridges. Let´s go and tear down silos.
Let us know your thoughts.