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Mind the Gap

Awareness and open communication can resolve on-the-job frictions due to age differences

5 min read

ARTWORK: DAVID PLUNKERT Although differences between the generations in the workplace are often brushed off as harmless or even humorous, the misunderstandings at times lead to conflict, disgruntlement, and worse. Young engineers may clash with older engineers because they feel their seniors are giving them too much supervision and too little flexibility. Managers in their fifties may feel workers in their thirties don't give them due respect or are too quick to question their authority. Over time, misunderstandings and miscommunications can accumulate and grow into real rifts. Ultimately, aggrieved professionals may leave their company altogether.

Several companies are beginning to recognize the lost productivity and poor morale that stem from generational rifts. Intractable as the problem may appear, say workplace experts, the solution is straightforward: awareness, education, and communication. "Generational issues are a subset of communications," says Bob Wendover, director of the Center for Generational Studies (Aurora, Colo.), which does research, sponsors seminars, and consults on generational differences. "If you understand where a person is coming from, it will help you predict their behavior. It will help to know how to communicate with them."

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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