Generational Differences&Communication At Work, Home & Play
Learning Objectives • Identify four generations in the workplace, and define them by experiences and events. • Compare and contrast the values and the potential outcomes of generational interaction. • Consider and identify potential problems for an organization when people from different generations fail to communicate effectively. • Compare and identify differing feedback styles and their impact. • Offer strategies for effective cross generational communication.
Generations at Work • The events and conditions each of us experience during our formative years help define who we are and how we view the world. • The generation we grow up in is just one of the influences on adult behavior.
Why Learn About The Generations? • Changing demographics • Better understand it’s impact in the workplace • Increase the personal competency in communication and management • Promote teamwork
Diversity….a Broad Scope • Diversity is sometimes defined as differences between individuals • Part of our focus in a given situation or interaction depends on who we are • Generational differences are one aspect of diversity
Generations • Matures Born Prior to 1946 • Baby Boomers Born 1946-1964 • Generation X Born 1965-1980 • Nexters Born 1981-1995
Think…Of the last time you heard comments like these….. • I remember when……. • Just do your job! • You are right, but I am the boss! • NO! • The kid wants a promotion after six months on the job
Matures Events & ExperiencesBorn Prior to 1946 • Great Depression • New Deal • WW II • Korean War • Atomic Bomb
MaturesValues • Hard Work • Frugal • Dedication & Sacrifice • Honor / Respect for Rules • Sacrifice
Matures Leadership Style Direct, Command & Control Communications Formal/memo, One on One Interaction Individualist Other No news is good news Experience is respected Education for many was a dream Rotary Phones Money—save and pay with cash Family is traditional
Other Matures • Conservative somewhat dressy clothing • Neatly trimmed hair • Owns American Golf Clubs • Memories of Marx Brothers, Sinatra, Big Bands, Big Cars • TV included Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, Father Knows Best • Sex on the honeymoon • Heroes include FDR, Superman, Babe Ruth, Dimaggio, Patton, MacArthur • Memorabilia include Juke Boxes, Blondie, Lone Ranger, Charlie McCarthy
Baby BoomersEvents & Experiences • Civil Rights • Space Travel • Cold War • Sexual Revolution • Assassinations
Baby Boomer Values • Optimism • Team Orientation • Personal Gratification • Involvement • Personal Growth
Baby Boomer Leadership Style Consensual, Collegial Interaction Team player, love to have meetings! Communication In person Other Love title recognition Money You are valued and needed Education is a birthright Family begins disintegrating Buy now, pay later Affluent
Other Baby Boomer • May wear designer glasses, whatever is trendy • Longer Hair • Designer Suites • Memories of Smothers Brothers, Beatles, Lassie, Drive In, Mickey Mouse Club • TV includes Laugh In, Westerns, Lassie, Mod Squad, Carson, MASH, Sunday Night Disney • Sex in the back seat • Heroes include John and Jackie Kennedy, MLK, John Glenn, John Lennon, Gandi • Memorabilia includes fallout shelters, TV dinners, Hula Hoops, Peace Sign, Poodle Skirts,
Generation XEvents & Experiences • Fall of Berlin Wall • Women’s Liberation • Watergate • Energy Crisis • Cynical
Generation X Values • Diversity • Techno Literacy • Fun & Informality • Self Reliance/Autonomy • Pragmatism
Generation X Leadership Style Everyone is the same Challenge others Interaction Entrepreneur Communications Direct Immediate Other Freedom is the best reward Latch Key Kids Money cautious….save-save Education is a way to get there Sorry to interrupt,but how am I doing?
Other Generational X’ers • May wear functional clothing, have tattoos, any style hair, naval or nose rings • Memories of Tonya Harding, Snoop Doggy Dog, Beavis & Butthead, Video Games • TV includes SNL, Friends, 90210, Cosby, • Sex “On the Internet” • Heroes include Michael Jordan, Ron Reagan, Magic Johnson • Memorabilia include Brady Bunch, Pet Rocks, Platform shoes, ET, The Simpsons, Sesame Street, Cabbage Patch Dolls
Nexter Values • Optimistic • Civic Duty • Confident • Achievement Oriented • Respect for Diversity • Social
Nexters Events & Experiences • Oklahoma City • School Shootings • Technology • Clinton/Lewinsky • Conservative Values
Nexter Leadership Style TBD Interaction Participative Communications E-mail Voice mail Cell phone
Other Nexter • May wear Retro Clothing, Spiked , bleached or “in style” hair, Body Piercing • Pagers • Memories of Goo-Goo Dolls, Trench coat Mafia, 9-11 • TV includes Dawson Creek, The WB, Malcom in the Middle, Who wants to be a Millionaire, That 70’s Show • Sex----Protected, Love waits • Heroes include NYPD/NYFD, Parents, Princess Diana, Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Mia Hamm, Tiger Woods • Memorabilia include, Barney, Teenage Mutant Turtles, American Girl Dolls, Spice Girls, X-Games, Oprah, Rosie
Generation Interaction Matures and Boomers may have a tendency not to question or challenge authority or the status quo. This may cause confusion and resentment among the Xers and Nexters who have been taught to speak up.
Generational Interaction Xers and Nexters who have had different life experiences and communicate with people differently, may fail to actively listen to Boomers and Matures, thereby missing valuable information and guidance.
Quiz The events and conditions each of us experience during our formative years help define who we are and how we view the world. True False Which of the following most accurately identifies the four generations in the workplace. Matures, Boomers, Xers, Generaltionalists Boomers, Mature, Nexters and Socialists Mature, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters None of the above
Communication across the generations has no impact on tangible cost, (i.e. recruitment, hiring or retention). True False Feedback styles are fairly consistent from one generation to the next. True False
Which of the following would you consider an accurate statement in managing intergenerational staff? The most successful leaders find ways of letting different generations be heard. Actively listening to staff that represent different generations causes confusion and is unproductive. Managing generational differences means avoiding conflict by controlling the way people speak out. None of the above
Generational Feedback Feedback style and form can be impacted by generational differences
Generational Feedback • Matures-“No news is good news” • Boomers-“Feedback once a year and lots of documentation” • Xers-“Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?” • Nexters-“Feedback whenever I want at the push of a button.”
Feedback Style and Impact • Feedback styles that may appear informative and helpful to one generation might seem formal and “preachy” to another. • Feedback an “Xer” thinks is immediate and honest can seem hasty or even inappropriate to other generations. • Some older generations have been told that there is a time and place for feedback. Younger generations haven’t necessarily been taught this “rule”.
Generational Meaning of Feedback • Matures seek no applause, but appreciate a subtle acknowledgement that they have made a difference. • Boomers are often giving feedback to others, but seldom receiving, especially positive feedback. • Xers need positive feedback to let them know they are on the right track • Nexters are use to praise and may mistake silence for disapproval. They need to know what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
Valuing Differences Information flows in all directions in a learning organization. The most successful leaders find a way to let every generation be heard. They recognize that no one has all the answers. This appreciation of diversity allows each group to contribute and be a part of the growth of an organization.
You run a collectibles shop patronized primarily by those over sixty. Heather, your delightful new "twenty-something" counter clerk, has just shown up this morning with a shock of orange and purple hair on the left side of her head. What do you do?
You’ve discovered, over time, that the teenagers working for you can’t add, subtract or multiply to save their lives. A spot check of a recent inventory was so inaccurate that it will have to be re-done. The problem is that they don’t seem to care. How do you get them invested?
Your new assistant general manager is twenty-seven with a degree in business management. This summer, you’ve placed him in charge of the cadre of senior citizen volunteers who staff many parts of the theme park. A delegation of these volunteers came to you this morning, warning of an insurrection if he doesn’t treat them with more respect. What do you do?
You’ve just discovered that the new "kid" you hired to install a computer system in your three stores also installed a whole selection of games for employees to play when they’re bored. You brought the issue up in a staff meeting and they argued that they should be able to play the games as long as the work is done. At 59, you "know" that the work is never done. Now you’re faced with the unpopular task of uninstalling the games, but you don’t even know how.
Your best front desk staffer has just announced that she has the lead in a college production. She says she’s already worked the schedule out with the rest of those on front desk so that she won’t have to work weekends and evenings for the next six months. While you support what she’s doing, it may also open the way to a host of other exceptions. In addition, a couple of staffers have already groused about it. You’re beginning to wonder how she represented your feelings about her rearranging the schedule.
You are a project manager with many years of service. The "twenty-something" you hired seven months ago, graduated from college with a 3.95 GPA, but you just can’t get used to her blasé attitude about work. You’ve tried to set a good example by keeping her in the loop on every project and praising what she does, but she just smiles and says, "I know." It’s becoming increasingly apparent to you that she’s building experience in your division for the expressed purpose of taking it somewhere else as soon as possible.
Over the past three years, you have discovered that the quality of written communication leaving your department has deteriorated considerably. Last week, you caught another letter with poor grammar and incomplete thoughts on it’s way out the door. Two months ago, you received a letter one of your people had sent, returned in the mail. The recipient had edited it for spelling and grammar, in a red pen…………..
When you’ve mentioned this situation at a couple of staff meetings, it has been apparent that the staff doesn’t think there’s anything wrong. In one case, someone retorted, "We’re engineers, not English majors."
Two of your people are at each other’s throats most of the time. While they’re supposed to be collaborating on a project, their section of the department has developed into your own little soap opera. Roger, a 54-year-old engineer, is everybody’s idea of meticulous. While he is comfortable using computers, he has a tendency to revert back to the good old calculator when it comes time for the critical numbers…………
…..This makes his associate, Brad, nuts. Brad is a twenty-six-year-old engineer who trusts computers implicitly. Truth to tell, you’re not convinced that Brad understands the derivations of the calculations and may be hiding his ignorance by riding Roger about his meticulousness. Besides, Brad showed up at work with a small earring the other day and its obvious that he’s enjoying the impact it’s having on Roger.
To you, punctuality has always been a demonstration of respect within the workplace. But there doesn’t seem to be a person under thirty who shows up consistently on time. If you were to calculate all the missed time, it would number in the thousands of hours. Everybody keeps tells you to "lighten up", but with you, its an integrity issue. At 59, you’ve got three years to go, but it is still a real sticking point for you.
One of your co-workers is 20 years your junior. She is a bright, well-trained professional who entered your department six months ago from graduate school. While she can be warm and friendly, she also possesses a "take-no-prisoners" attitude when addressing certain issues. This has produced considerable friction within the department and headaches for you in dealing with those outside. When you've approached her about being more diplomatic in a particular situation, her response has been, "These people are in the wrong. Why is there a need for diplomacy?"
After a reorganization, you find yourself surrounded by those 30-35 years younger than you. While they work hard when on the job, what goes on in their leisure time dominates most conversations in the office. Your supervisor, someone 10 years your junior, does little to keep meetings on task and most degenerate into discussions of snowboarding, golf, cars, etc. Being a 35-year veteran of the organization, you feel a much stronger sense of duty and this lack of focus frustrates you no end.
You have been assigned as team leader of a department consisting of "twenty-somethings" and "sixty-somethings." It is no secret that those in their 60s are counting the days until retirement and are loath to go out on a limb. This "play it safe" attitude infuriates a couple of the younger workers who have threatened to leave if you don't do something to "address the situation." Being a 48-year-old with 20 years on the job, your feelings tend to side more with those close to retirement.