Leading and the Multigenerational Factor

June 13, 2010 by
Filed under: Leadership 

generational1 300x300 Leading and the Multigenerational FactorIf you’re in the work­force today you’ve prob­a­bly expe­ri­enced mis­un­der­stand­ings that occur due to peo­ple being of dif­fer­ing gen­er­a­tions. You may not know or believe that mis­un­der­stand­ings can occur due to peo­ple being of dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions, but they do and it’s sim­ply a fact of life. This sim­ple fact is prob­a­bly more impor­tant today than ever before and here’s why. For the first time in human his­tory, we have four sep­a­rate gen­er­a­tions work­ing together in soci­ety. Each gen­er­a­tion has its own char­ac­ter­is­tics, strengths, likes and dis­likes, and work­ing style.

“The prospect of man­ag­ing work­groups con­sist­ing of such a wide poten­tial age range presents sev­eral chal­lenges, but it also can yield sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ties. .… acknowl­edg­ing gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences offers com­pa­nies access to a wider array of cre­ative ideas and, per­haps more impor­tant, ensures that the firm’s tal­ent pool is fully tapped.” - Infor­ma­tion­Week arti­cle by Kather­ine Spencer Lee (Feb­ru­ary 4th, 2006)

The four gen­er­a­tions being men­tioned here are the “Tra­di­tion­al­ist” (born between 1900 and 1945), the “Baby Boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964), “Gen­er­a­tion X” (born between 1965 and 1977), and “Gen­er­a­tion Y” (born between 1978 and 2000).

Some Gen­er­a­tional Traits for The Four Generations

One day, there was a man­ager of the Baby-Boomer gen­er­a­tion named Bob who was wait­ing to meet with one of his sub­or­di­nates in his office. He had what he per­ceived as great news. His sub-ordinate John, who was of Generation-Y,  walked into Bob’s office and sat down. Bob asked John to close the door and once he did, Bob pro­ceeded to tell him that he had great news. Bob told him that there was an open­ing for senior direc­tor posi­tion and that John was selected for the posi­tion. The only thing he had to do was move to one of the company’s other offices four states away. Now Bob knew that John was work­ing towards becom­ing a Senior Direc­tor and now here was his chance. Upon hear­ing the news, John did not react the way Bob expected. John appeared flat­tered that he was being seen as senior direc­tor mate­r­ial by upper man­age­ment. He also said he needed to think about the offer. This per­plexed Bob because he was not able to under­stand John’s hes­i­ta­tion. After all, this was a once in a life­time oppor­tu­nity. The next day, John came into Bob’s office and told him that he was not inter­ested in tak­ing the posi­tion. In addi­tion, he said he was resign­ing in order to pur­sue other areas of inter­est. To say that Bob was sur­prised would be an under­state­ment. Bob could not under­stand John’s rea­son­ing here. In addi­tion, one of the first things to come across Bob’s mind was that John did not have ambi­tion or the drive to move up in the world and that would be a big hin­drance n John’s career. Have you ever wit­nessed this type of sce­nario (or been involved your­self simple smile Leading and the Multigenerational Factor ) before?  Is it that John is not dri­ven to take advan­tages of the oppor­tu­ni­ties that present themselves?

For a Generation-Y per­son, bal­ance in life is very impor­tant, as it is for many gen­er­a­tions. The dif­fer­ence here is that for a Gen-Y per­son, bal­ance means “Work is not ALL ; flex­i­bil­ity to bal­ance ALL inter­est.

Below are some traits spe­cific to dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions. (Note:  these are a gen­er­al­iza­tion of the dif­fer­ent traits seen for each gen­er­a­tion. There will undoubt­edly be indi­vid­u­als who do not fit the “mold” so to speak for the gen­er­a­tion they are part of)

generational2 4ALL Leading and the Multigenerational Factor


Under­stand­ing Multi-Generations (Avoid­ing Conflict)

Tra­di­tion­al­ist, Baby-Boomers, Gen­er­a­tion X, and Gen­er­a­tion Y have dif­fer­ent views on things when it comes to career goals, rewards,  bal­ance and job feed­back. Some of them can be quite oppo­site to each other which can lead to many of those multi-generational mis­un­der­stand­ings. As a leader, it’s always in the best inter­est of the group you’re lead­ing, in what the group is attempt­ing to accom­plish, and in your effec­tive­ness as a leader to under­stand how mem­bers of dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions view the world.

Views on Career Goals:

Tra­di­tion­al­ists:      Leav­ing a legacy.

Boomers:               Hav­ing a Stel­lar Career.

Gen-Xers:              Hav­ing a Portable Career.

Gen-Yers:              Hav­ing a Par­al­lel Career.

Views on Rewards:

Tra­di­tion­al­ists:   A job that is well done.

Boomers:            Bonus or a Cash award. Pro­mo­tion, recog­ni­tion, the cor­ner office

Gen-Xers:           Free­dom; Giv­ing them a day off.

Gen-Yers:            Hav­ing work that is meaningful.

Views on Retire­ment:

Tra­di­tion­al­ists:   Reward for so many years of loyal work.

Boomers:            A time to retool.

Gen-Xers:           A time to renew yourself.

Gen-Yers:            Recy­cle

Views on Changing Jobs:

Tra­di­tion­al­ists:   Stigma.

Boomers:            A regres­sion or demotion.

Gen-Xers:           Nec­es­sary.

Gen-Yers:            Part of daily routine.

Views on Feed­back:

Tra­di­tion­al­ists:   No news is good news.

Boomers:            Once/year is more than enough.

Gen-Xers:           “How am I doing?” is asked often; Give feed­back when they ask for it.

Gen-Yers:            As often as possible.

Prob­a­bly the one inter­est­ing thing to remem­ber here is that this multi­gen­er­a­tional clash has vir­tu­ally always existed. The Tra­di­tion­al­ist gen­er­a­tion had issues with their parent’s and grandparent’s gen­er­a­tion. Generation-Y will be deal­ing with the next gen­er­a­tion and their views and how dif­fer­ent it may be from theirs. So the next time you find your­self say­ing, “Kids these days! What is the mat­ter with them. Why don’t they <_fill in your gripe here_>? ” think about how you were with your par­ents and grand­par­ents (be hon­est simple smile Leading and the Multigenerational Factor ). The next time you find your­self call­ing your boss as an old fogy, think about how they were brought up to see the world and make an effort to under­stand them. You may find your­self a lit­tle bit more patient with them.

Great Arti­cles and Resources on the Gen­er­a­tional Dif­fer­ences Discussion:

Gen Y, Gen X and the Baby Boomers: Work­place Gen­er­a­tion Wars” — by Steff Gel­ston (CIO.com)

Gen­er­a­tional Dif­fer­ences at Work” by Melissa Dittman. A psy­chol­o­gist stud­ies ways to help tra­di­tion­al­ists, baby boomers, gen Xers and mil­len­ni­als work bet­ter together, despite their gen­er­a­tional differences.

Man­ag­ing Gen­er­a­tional Dif­fer­ences in the Work­place” by Mar­garet Hef­fer­nan (Fast Company.com)

Mix­ing and Man­ag­ing Four Gen­er­a­tions of Employ­ees” — by Greg Ham­mill, direc­tor, intern and stu­dent pro­grams, at FDU’s Sil­ber­man Col­lege of Business.

Multi­gen­er­a­tional Lead­er­ship Clout” — Phillip A. Tanzilo, MBA (Trans­for­ma­tional Learn­ing & Leadership)

Multi­gen­er­a­tional Lead­er­ship” — by Cheri Baker, owner of Emer­gence Con­sult­ing®

Social Media Tips for a Multi-Generational Work­force” by Jes­sica Simko

The Gen Y Fac­tor: Secrets to Attract­ing and Engag­ing ‘New Age’ Atten­dees” by Karen Brost

The Lead­ers We Need Now” by Tamara J. Jack­son (2010 Har­vard Busi­ness Review)

What You Need to Know About Men­tor­ing the New Gen­er­a­tions”  by Devon Scheef and Diane Thiefoldt (2004 The Learn­ing Cafe)

Some Great Pod­casts and Videos:

Gen­er­a­tional View of Pub­lish­ing” — Video on the future of pub­lish­ing. It is an amaz­ing piece.

Mil­len­nial Gen­er­a­tion” — Diane Thielfoldt  of TheLearningCafe.net dis­cusses the Mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion and the impact of gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences in the workplace


2 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on Leading and the Multigenerational Factor

  1. Wiley Dauterman on Sun, 31st Oct 2010 4:07 pm
  2. I’d come to grant with you here. Which is not some­thing I typ­i­cally do! I enjoy read­ing a post that will make peo­ple think. Also, thanks for allow­ing me to speak my mind!

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. Sri Ram on Tue, 30th Sep 2014 2:40 am
  4. I could n’t con­clude your con­tent but i assure you this is one of the great­est one and highly pro­fes­sional.
    Sri Ram recently posted..Stream­lin­ing Mar­ket­ing Strat­egy through Mar­ket­ing AutomationMy Profile

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!


CommentLuv badge

Notify via Email Only if someone replies to My Comment

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

This blog uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 3 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)
  • Add to Technorati Favorites
  • Google FriendsConnect

  • Sponsors

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button