Approaches, expectations and perceptions of different generations regarding culture and leadership in the engineering department at Sishen mine

Roux, Daniel Francois (2008-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: People's life experiences and backgrounds shape who they are - whether they are young or old, male or female, and across all races, ethnicities and religions. Today's workplace environment represents the largest diversity of generations of any time in history, and with this diversity comes new challenges. These challenges are directly due to the different generations and associated gaps based on different approaches, expectations and perceptions regarding culture and leadership in the workplace. There are generally four different generations employed in today's workplace: Traditionalists (Builders), Baby Boomers (Yuppies), Generation X (Yiffies), and Generation Y (Millennials). According to generation theory, Traditionalists were born between 1930 and 1949, Baby Boomers between 1950 and 1969, Generation X between 1970 and 1989, and Generation Yafter 1990. Although there are very few Traditionalists in contemporary workplaces, there are still some left to consider. More important than understanding the Traditionalists, though, is the need for a better understanding of the fast-growing group of Generation Y employees who are entering the workforce. At Sishen Iron Ore Mine (Sishen) there are also four generations employed, each with different approaches, expectations, perceptions, attitudes, loyalties, frames of reference, views of authority, job strengths, work ethics, relationships, work/life balances and other beliefs. The question that arises is whether the management team of the Engineering Department at Sishen can be more effective and productive through an improved and in-depth understanding of each generation's approaches, expectations and perceptions regarding culture and leadership. The purpose of this research study is to analyse the specific correlation of the different workforce generations in the Engineering Department with the general theoretical knowledge available about each generation by focusing more specifically on approaches, expectations and perceptions. The study also includes some recent research information regarding Generation Y and the related opportunities, challenges and effective ways of managing this generation. By focusing on the research results within the multigenerational workforce and the generation gaps, the possible solutions for managing conflict can improve through a better understanding of each generation. Each generation's typical characteristics are discussed in detail by means of a thorough literature study, with the overall aim of enhancing both team and organisational success. The employees and permanent contractors at the Engineering Department number approximately 1 945. The randomly selected participants in the generations survey were from the pool of permanent employees, excluding the contractors. The information was collected by means of a short questionnaire representing the typical characteristics of each generation. A sample of 250 participants from eight different sections within the department was asked to complete the questionnaire, but unfortunately a response rate of only 34% (85 questionnaires) was recorded. The research showed that the typical characteristics of the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers could be used to represent almost the entire Engineering Department. It also revealed specific influences in the working and social environment, leadership styles, and the mine's culture that affect the different generations regarding their approaches, expectations and perceptions. The report concludes with an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the study, as well as a few key findings and a summary, conclusion, and recommendations.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Alle mense word gevorm deur lewensondervindings en agtergrond wat bepaal wie hulle is - ongeag of hulle oud of jonk, manlik of vroulik is, asook oor alle rasse, etniese groepe en geloofsoortuigings heen. Hedendaagse werksomgewings word gekenmerk deur die grootste generasiediversiteit van alle tye, wat nuwe uitdagings meebring. Die uitdagings is die direkte gevolg van die verskillende generasies en gepaardgaande gapings gebaseer op verskillende benaderings, verwagtinge en persepsies aangaande kultuur en leierskap in die werksplek. Daar is tans oor die algemeen vier verskillende generasies in diens in werksplekke, naamlik Tradisionaliste, Baby Boomers, Generasie X en Generasie Y. Volgens generasieteorie is Tradisionaliste persone gebore tussen 1930 en 1949, terwyl Baby Boomers tussen 1950 en 1969, Generasie X tussen 1970 en 1989 en Generasie Y na 1990 gebore is. Hoewel daar min Tradisionaliste in die werksplek oor is, is daar nog enkeles wat in ag geneem moet word. Van groter belang is egter die behoefte om die vinnig groeiende Generasie Y wat nou tot die werksmag toetree, beter te verstaan. By Sishen Ysterertsmyn (Sishen) is daar ook vier verskillende generasies in diens, elk met verskillende benaderings, verwagtinge, persepsies, houdings, lojaliteite, verwysingsraamwerke, menings oor gesag, werksverwante sterkpunte, werk-etiek, verhoudings, lewensbalanse asook ander oortuigings. Die vraag wat ontstaan, is of die bestuurspan van die Ingenieurswese Departement by Sishenmyn meer effektief en produktief kan wees deur hul kennis en begrip van elke generasie se benaderings, verwagtinge en persepsies ten opsigte van kultuur en leierskap te verbeter. Die doel van die studie is om te ontleed of daar 'n spesifieke ooreenstemming is tussen die verskillende generasies by die Ingenieurswese Departement en die algemene teoretiese inligting beskikbaar oor elke generasie deur meer spesifiek op benaderings, verwagtinge en persepsies te fokus. Die studie sluit ook onlangse navorsingsinligting aangaande Generasie Y in, met die gepaardgaande geleenthede, uitdagings en effektiewe maniere om die generasie te bestuur. Deur te fokus op die navorsingsresultate binne die multigenerasie-werksmag en die ooreenstemmende gapings, kan daar moontlik oplossings ontstaan om te help met konflikbestuur wat op 'n beter begrip van die generasies gegrond is. Elke generasie se tipiese eienskappe word in diepte bespreek deur middel van 'n deeglike literatuurstudie, met die oorhoofse doel om span- sowel as organisasiesukses te verhoog. Die totale aantal werknemers, insluitend permanente kontrakteurs, van die Ingenieurswese Departement is ongeveer 1 945. Die deelnemers aan die generasieopname is lukraak gekies, maar die kontrakteurs is uitgesluit. Die inligting is ingesamel met behulp van 'n kort vraelys wat die tipiese eienskappe van elke generasie verteenwoordig. Uit 'n steekproef van 250 deelnemers uit agt verskillende seksies binne die departement wat gevra is om die vraelys te voltooi, is 'n betreklik swak responskoers van 34% (85 vraelyste) behaal. Die navorsing het bevind dat die tipiese eienskappe van die Tradisionaliste en Baby Boomers tans gebruik kan word om feitlik die hele department te verteenwoordig. Dit toon verder ook dat daar spesifieke invloede in die werks- en sosiale omgewing, leierskapstyle en die myn se kultuur is wat die verskillende generasies se denkpatrone rondom benaderings, verwagtinge en persepsies vorm. Die navorsingsverslag word afgesluit met 'n bepaling van die sterk- en swakpunte van die studie, 'n paar kernbevindings en 'n opsomming, gevolgtrekking en aanbevelings.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/15056
This item appears in the following collections: