Generations in the Workplace: Building Bridges Veterans In Small Groups…. • Do you have a story to tell in which two or more generations collided at work? Social experiences News headlines Economic Conditions Size of the Cohort Generation Gaps: Why We Struggle Political Experiences Shared Life Experiences Pop Culture Baby Boomers Born 19461964 Builders/ Veterans Born 19251945 80 Million 56 Million Millennials/ Gen “Y” Born 19781996 78 Million Generation “X” Born 19651977 38 Million In Small Groups…. • What are the shared life experiences and social, political, economic events that impacted the cohort you’ve been assigned? • What are some of the pop culture icons of the cohort? Builders/Veterans/Traditionalists Some Defining Events: • Great Depression • The New Deal/Social Security/GI Bill • WWI, WWII, then Korean War • Betty Crocker • Charles Lindbergh • Roaring ‘20’s • The Rat Pack • Radio • Party-line telephones Builder/ Veteran Values • • • • • Duty before pleasure Loyal Dependable Honor heroes and leaders Belief in institutions like the church, government, companies • Discipline • Hard work and sacrifice should be rewarded In the Workplace One Career, in one company Lines of authority are clear and respected: chain of command Respectful of and obedient to leaders Autocratic leadership and management Prefer consistency and conformity to procedure/policy Feedback only when something is wrong Delayed reward and gratification Baby Boomers Some Defining Events: • Economic Prosperity • Civil Rights Act • Human rights movement • Peace Corps • JFK, MLK, Jr. Assassinated • Vietnam • Birth Control • Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll • Cold War • Television • McCarthy hearings • Space Travel • Credit cards Baby Boomer Values • LIVE to work • Identity is tied to professional life • Hard work = success • Love/hate relationship with authority • Belief and trust in institutions • Competitive: get ahead • Service-oriented; optimistic • Relationship/team-builders • Health and wellness • Forever young In the Workplace Upward mobility in 2 – 3 companies Love/hate relationship with leaders: change of command Participative leadership and management Hard work and sacrifice = promotion! Annual performance reviews Proud of their experience Willing to go the extra mile – good team players Use technology to work MORE! Generation X Defining events: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Watergate scandal Nuclear disasters Challenger Disaster Fall of Berlin Wall First Gulf War Exxon Valdez oil spill Corporate downsizing Tripling divorce rates “Latchkey Kids” AIDS Cable television Video games Personal computers/cell phones International Space Station Energy crisis Generation X Values • Skepticism • Distrust of institutions • Hard work does not guarantee success • Work-life balance: work to LIVE • Identity is connected to fun, family • Self-reliant, autonomous • Practical/pragmatic • Work should be fun • Competitive; upward mobility • Adapt to change well • Techno-literate • Instant gratification • Multi-taskers In the Workplace 2 – 3 careers, several companies Not intimidated by authority; titles don’t matter to them Respect ability and knowledge, not the title Thrive on change; tendency to reject rules in favor of what is practical to them Want frequent feedback on how they can improve and be promotable Value on the job training Use technology to help them balance home and work life Millennials Defining Events • • • • • • • • September 11; terrorism; Columbine Natural disasters Drugs and gangs in schools Clinton scandal Obama Technology-based social networking Internet/Smartphones/texting Self-esteem movement; everyone gets a trophy • Helicopter parents who told them “They’re special” • Best-educated generation; but have never worked. • Busy, over-planned lives Millennial Values • • • • • • • • • • • FAST multi-taskers Work to LIVE Socially responsible: Volunteerism Interested in spirituality Expect and celebrate diversity Confident; believe they are ready now for more responsibility Like to work in teams Technology is an integral part of who they are Delayed adulthood Want and expect PRAISE Morality; abstinence up, substance abuse is down In the Workplace Anticipate having 5 – 7 different careers Respect authority figures and believe they are useful as mentors, cheerleaders, and career counselors First generation who doesn’t need an authority figure to access information Want and need mentors, but do not know how to reach out to them Need interpersonal communication skills Want constant feedback….and LOTS of PRAISE! Want work to be meaningful, challenging, and on their own terms Expect diversity Expect rewards Shared Values of All Generations Want challenging Work Want work-life balance Want to be fairly treated -- Ben Rosen, Ph.D., UNC-CH Kenan-Flagler Business School Want competitive compensation Want opportunities to advance and grow professionally All generations agreed that the ideal leader… • Leads by Example • Is Accessible • Helps others see how their roles contribute to the organization • Acts as a coach and mentor • Challenges others and holds others accountable -- Ben Rosen, Ph.D., UNC-CH Kenan-Flagler Business School Tips for working with Millennials • Acknowledge their expertise and perspective and that you can learn from them • Be open to new ways of working • Embrace technology • Create opportunities to involve them in important projects • Offer to be a mentor • Find a communications balance • Foster fun work environment • Give frequent feedback and praise • Avoid age-related name-calling “the children” Tips for working with Generation X • Acknowledge their experience, expertise, and that you can learn from them • Be clear and direct; avoid jargon, buzzwords • Find a communications balance • Allow flexibility in work style processes • Honor the need for work-life balance • Encourage a friendly, casual work environment • Avoid age-related name-calling “slacker, no loyalty, poor work ethic” Tips for working with Baby Boomers • Acknowledge their experience, expertise, and hard work • Find a communications balance between text/email/voicemail and face-to-face communication • Seek their help with workplace politics • Use them as a sounding board • Avoid age-related comments like “They’ll do anything to get ahead, they’re workaholics” Tips for working with Builders/Veterans • • • • • • • • Acknowledge their experience and dedication Pay attention to the chain of command Speak positively about history of organization Express interest in the work – processes, projects, etc. Seek their insights Use them as a resource Acknowledge their respect for rules and hierarchy Avoid age-related offensive comments “Aren’t you ready to retire?” What will you commit to do differently to improve teamwork with coworkers of different generations? “People resemble their times more than they resemble their parents.” References • • • • Zemke, Ron; Raines, Claire; and Filipczak, Bob. Generations at Work., 2nd Edition. AMACOM, 2013. White, Marion. “Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace: Focus on Shared Values.” Whitepaper published by UNC Executive Development, 2011. Espinoza, Chip; Ukleja, Mick; and Rusch, Craig. Managing the Millennials. John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Lancaster, Lynne C. and Stillman, David. When Generations Collide. Harper Business, 2002.