Recently, one of my old marketing guru's and mentor's, who's been instrumental in the marketing of some very successful schools in the past as well as his own entrepreneurial endeavors, read about the new multi-generational office structures that I highlighted in a former "Check Up". He writes for a popular S. Cal. newspaper in his spare lucid moments and took my little blurb to the next level. Since we are all dealing with people in our own offices as well as students from all of these groups, I asked him if I could copy his article for a checkup again...just to remind us all of the unique challenges that today's business climate is dealing with.
This is the new buzzword. It means that for the first time, we have at least four generations working together or at least giving the appearance of doing so. This might even be true where you work or at least give the appearance of doing so.
It can be a management nightmare. Think about it.
What you've got are people who don't look at anything related to the job in the same way. This includes teamwork, instruction, evaluation, advancement and the environment on the job. You name it and the sense of values are not the same.
So, the big question is how does one create an all-encompassing environment wherein everyone gets what he or she considers to be important and get the job done without raging favoritism?
No, a big whip and a pad of pink slips won't do it. Maybe if it was a pink whip......
Understanding the differences that each generation brings to work would be the first step. The generational classifications are in these categories roughly defined by birth dates.
- 1920-1944: Veterans - Traditionalists - Silents - Matures - These folks are the backbone of hard work. They believe that everything is achieved through hard work. There are no free meals. One should stick with a company through good and bad times and the company will reward you because it values loyalty. The Great Depression and WWII had a great impact on those born during the tough years.
- 1945-1959: Baby Boomers - Born after the war, they retained a strong work ethic and equated their performance reviews with the inordinate amount of time spent at work. They are very competitive because a lot of them hit the streets looking for work at the same time. The appeals are money, recognition and special status symbols. In essence, they are their jobs.
- 1960-1979: Gen Xers - This is considered the most difficult group to manage. This is the first group to grow up surrounded by technology. It's not how many hours one spends at their desk. It's the output that is the measurement for performance. This generation was caught in their parent's high divorce rates. They were the latchkey kids while their parents worked and focused their lives on their work. They lack a sense of teamwork and certainly don't trust employers. Freedom is the most cherished reward along with skill training and a benefit package that is mobile and not tied into a 20-year tenure.
- 1980-1995: Generation Y - Nexters - Millennials - Echo Boomers - Because their parents had more flexibility at work and placed a high value on leisure time with the family, this generation is pretty well grounded. Lots of team sports and outside play dates create a work together spirit to get the job done. The epitome of multitaskers this group was born with technology and knows how to use it to gather paid time off with lots of career advancement training. Work is not just a way to make money; it's a way to make a difference and the work must have both tangible and intangible value.
No one likes to be stereotyped but each generation does have a pronounced profile.
The Traditionalists are loyalists and their employers reciprocated.
The Baby Boomers are more individualistic and entrepreneurial depending less upon one employer for a career.
The Gen X'ers are more independent and prefer to take care of themselves realizing that their employer isn't going to do it and are very mobile in their career moves.
The Gen Y'ers have more parental and adult interaction to build trust that is lacking in the Xers and look forward to their work experiences with a more balanced life style.
So, there you have it. One wears a tie, one wears cargo pants, one telecommutes, one volunteers and all create havoc at work if a supervisor is not in tune with the needs of each generation to make them feel valued and not like a round peg in a square cubicle.
I bet you could find a pink whip on eBay.