Posted: 05 Jun. 2023

A mutual willingness to listen and learn from the other generations can lead to a better understanding of each other’s values and thought processes.

Christoph, Denny & Victoria come from different generations and talk about the positive impact this brings to their team. A little teaser: it’s huge and inspiring!

Diversity is our superpower and cyber unites us!
We empower each other. We accelerate growth. We shape the future.
But how? With our common passion for topics related to cyber and, more importantly, our different backgrounds and levels of experience!

A mutual willingness to listen and learn from the other generations can lead to a better understanding of each other’s values and thought processes.

Hello everyone, you are all part of Deloitte’s cyber team and from different generations – generation X, millennials, generation Z. Which generation do you belong to, what are the descriptions/clichés of each generation, and do they apply to you personally?
Victoria: Being part of the Gen Z, I feel a strong motivation to find my personal impact, meaning and contribution to the world. For our whole generation and for me personally, diversity in the workplace is extremely important to reach this desire. It is also increasingly important not to be bound to one place, so I would argue that my generation thrives within teams that feature people of different cultures.

Christoph: I am a millennial and therefore belong to a bridge-builder generation between the analogue and digital world. Like most millennials, I spent my early childhood growing up without the ubiquitous presence of computers and cellphones. A common (and true) stereotype is that we are constantly asked by our parents to act as IT support. While sometimes it can feel tedious, it is nice to know that I can help my parents as a small gesture of appreciation for everything they provided for me during my upbringing.

Denny: Since I was born between 1965 and 1980, I probably belong to Generation X. Raised by the post-war generation, there were strict rules. One was, for example (and still is for some 😉), not to leave leftovers on the plate when eating. I was also brought up by my parents trusting that I would only have one employer to move up throughout my career. Accordingly, values like loyalty were highly praised and taught.

Different generations bring diversity and often different opinions on a wide range of topics. What do you think are positive effects on your team and how you collaborate? And are there any negative effects as well?
Christoph: Different generations can bring a multitude of advantages going both ways: Experienced colleagues can share their wisdom to help new-joiners and graduates navigate their new daily lives as part of the workforce. They can also give guidance on the priorities to set and provide valuable insights into personal and professional development. To return the favor, younger employees can provide a fresh perspective and new approaches to existing processes as well as advise when new technologies are rolled out. Negative effects can occur if one side is not prepared to listen to the other. Both sides need to be willing to be confronted by inconvenient truths and transform them into a source of power and change instead of a source of conflict.

Denny: For me, the most positive effects of different generations working together are the contrasting perspectives on professional and personal issues as well as the breaking up of existing structures, hierarchies, and ways of thinking. The younger generations managed to break down the classic clichés of the counselling profession and helped us to make the job more attractive. Many thanks for that!

As an additional effect, I would like to mention the changed expectations towards an employer. Today it is very well known that employers invest a lot in their employees and their skills. However, the younger generations sometimes have very high expectations of their employer and demand a lot in a very short time, especially in terms of promotion and salary increase. They often have the impression that if they don't get promoted as soon as possible, they will just have to move on to the next employer. This is absolutely justified, as the market allows this. But such an attitude cannot be healthy for anyone in the long run. Generation X has developed the ability to accept certain circumstances and to be patient. In any case, it is not easy for an employer to keep all generations happy.

What can you all learn from each other? And why do you think diversity in generations is absolutely crucial when it comes to teamwork?
Christoph: For me, diversity in generations starts with representation, but that is only the bare minimum. Currently, there is a tendency of many people to socialize with like-minded individuals and talk about other demographics instead of talking with them. This lack of inter-generational communication threatens to deepen existing differences and effectively prevent a debate about how we want to live (as colleagues and as a society). Healthy teamwork can only come from a place where everyone feels free to speak their mind and is open to suggestions at the same time. A mutual willingness to listen and learn from the other generations can lead to a better understanding of each other’s values and thought processes. A team (which can be thought of as a small-scale society) can only achieve the best results if every team member is enabled to contribute their strengths and insights. That is why I think diversity in generations is crucial for successful teamwork.

Denny: For me, the most important thing different generations can learn from each other is trust. Trust in the fact that everything will work out even with differences in ways of thinking and working. After all, we all have the same goal: achieving the best possible result for our clients!

Christoph, what convictions do millennials have when it comes to their career and work and how do they differ from generation X?
Christoph: I am convinced that we millennials owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Gen X who (after the groundwork was laid by our grandparents’ generation) have made our country into the post-WWII economic success story it is today by investing countless days and nights working their fingers to the bone. When comparing today’s Germany to photos from 1945, it is incredible what was achieved in just two generations. With this backstory, it is not surprising that Gen X grew up with the firm belief that work should be everyone’s number-one priority. We as millennials on the other hand have started questioning the paramount importance of work above all other aspects of life and started treating it as one of many priorities in life. We may tend to see work more as means to an end and evaluate our jobs as one of many puzzle pieces to be incorporated into the “puzzle of life”.

Denny, as generation X, do you notice differences in your work attitude or work measures compared to e.g., generation Z?
Denny: Yes, definitely! Just as there are differences between Generation X and the Millennials, as Christoph has already pointed out, there are differences between Generation X and Generation Z. The biggest difference, in my eyes, is the diversity of their own values. Generation Z generally brings a strong motivation and willingness to perform. This is also true for Generation X. The big difference, however, is that Generation Z needs values like flexibility, work-life balance, mental health, self-fulfillment, respect, appreciation, and the promise of adding value to society to maximize their potential. Money is somehow always there and therefore usually not that important. They don't live just to work, they work to enjoy the life they want to have. But as Christoph explained, Generation X seems to be more willing to "make sacrifices".

Victoria, as Gen Z, what do you think about these differences? Are they true or not? And do you have anything to add?
Victoria: The mentioned aspects about Gen Z are definitely true. Truthfully, I do believe that our generation is more laid back. Gen Z depends on the need to communicate several times per day and to feel connected and supported in our work. Recognition and frequent feedback are desired as we are used to instant gratification on social media. We also prefer self-directed learning as a training method for our roles. We are very competitive but desire to be motivated by increased impact creation within the firm.

Despite or even because of different generations within your cyber team, there is one thing that unites you all: your passion for cyber topics! In what way does this passion express itself in you?
Christoph: It is my firm belief that advances in the cyber domain could bring meaningful changes and improvements to the lives of all generations. Working together, we can make sure technology will be useful for everyone and help us tackle many of today’s problems, including decarbonization. As part of the capability group “Data & Privacy”, I want to play a role in ensuring that companies and institutions processing gigantic amounts of data in a lawful way and use them to make lives easier in as many areas as possible (at least one example comes to mind: the paper-based nightmare called German bureaucracy).

Denny: I have the opportunity to live out my passion for cyber issues by working intensively on technical projects, advising our clients and supporting recruiting measures. In doing so, communication and networking is the most important accelerator for me. I love expanding my business and personal contacts and having people around me who support each other. It doesn't matter to me which generation my counterpart belongs to. 

We are happy to share a lot more inspiring stories of our colleagues about the diversity in Deloitte’s cyber team with you – check it out!

Furthermore, you’re very welcome to get to know more about your career opportunities in the cyber team and to learn more about our cyber services.

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Sven Schulz

Sven Schulz

Employer Branding Manager

Sven ist seit 2018 im Team Employer Branding & Personalmarketing bei Deloitte Deutschland tätig. Dort verantwortet er unter anderem Employer Branding Kampagnen mit Fokus auf berufserfahrene Talente.  Im Deloitte Karriere Blog berichtet Sven über aktuelle Karrierethemen und relevante Business Entwicklungen, die Karrieremöglichkeiten für die unterschiedlichsten Profile bereithalten.

Jennifer Koschel

Jennifer Koschel

Associate Manager | Employer Branding

Jennifer ist seit 2019 Teil des Teams Employer Branding & Talent Attraction von Deloitte in Deutschland. Sie verantwortet nicht nur den Karriere-Blog, sondern auch Employer Branding-Kampagnen für verschiedene Businesses und Zielgruppen.