Connecting Generations “If the different generations are to thrive--not just survive--we need translators and interpreters rather than declarations of war.”
The ability to relate to all generations is one of today’s essential leadership skills
Today’s most effective organizations don’t just tolerate diversity, they seek it out. Differences become miraculous when we appreciate and utilize them
Shaped by our times • Examine the commonalities among vast numbers of people. • Delve into the common forces that affected millions of people at once. • Explore the mainstream messages. • Look at programming.
Shaped by our times • From the moment of birth, we are programmed. • Coded with data about what’s right and wrong, good and bad, stylish and geeky. • We begin a series of programming experiences that create filters through which we see the world.
Shaped by our times • A generation is a group of people who are programmed at about the same time. • What makes each generation unique is the programming experiences they shared during their formative years.
Shaped by our times • During any given era, the media bombards children with consistent and compelling messages. • It is their shared experiences that unite them as a generation. • What binds them is the mainstream culture of the time that formed them.
Cohorts • Refers to people born in the same general time span who share key life experiences. • … setting out for school for the first time together. • Reaching puberty at the same time. • Entering the workforce or university or marriage or middle age at the same time.
Cohorts • Most of us think of ourselves as individuals and underestimate how much we have in common with our cohort. • A generational cohort is a product of its times and tastes. • People tend to resemble their times more than they resemble their parents.
Cohorts • Their first headlines to inspire, horrify or thrill do much to shape the character of a generation. • The music • The heros • The passions • Their common history
Generational commonalties cut across racial, ethnic, and economic differences
Generalizations and Stereotypes • Generalizations are valuable when examining how generations collide and collaborate. • Generalizations are flexible. • Stereotypes are inflexible and applied to all members of a group. • It is very different to say, “Some Gen Xers are cynical,” than to say, “Gen Xers are cynical.
Caution: Stereotypes at work AV woman at hotel Expecting Tech savvy Xer Support-hose, corrective shoes older women Are you running MPEG video off your laptop?
Exceptions To the Rule Remember the bell curve from college!
To be successful, our organizations must harness the energies of every person regardless of age
It can only be accomplished if we build a bridge between the generations to help them more effectively collaborate and communicate
Veteran teachers think young teachers lack initiative and common sense. Young teachers think older teachers are stuck in their ways.
Young teachers depend on technologyOlder teachers depend on their experienceAnd so it goes…
American’s born since 1940 do not want to follow in the footsteps of their elders
People blame it on immaturity, but the reality seems to lie more in perspective
The most significant changes in perspective are the ways older and younger generations thinkabout time, technology, and loyalty
The Sounds of Conflict • “They have no work ethic. They’re just a bunch of slackers.” • “So I told my principal, If you’re looking for loyalty, buy a dog.”
The Sounds of Conflict • “I have a new rule. I will not attend meetings that start after 4 p.m., I have a life. • “He asks me. “Do you have an e-mail address? I felt like telling him, ‘since you were in diapers, buddy!” • “If I hear ‘We tried that in ‘87 one more time, I’ll hurl in his wrinkly, old face.”
What is different is that the new generation gap is a four-way divide
Four Generations The four generations of today’s workplace cover nearly seventy birth years.
Generational Breakdown • Matures Born before 194075 million Approximately 10% of workforce • Baby Boomers 1940 – 196080 million Approximately 45% of workforce • Generation X 1960 –198045 million Approximately 45% of workforce • Millennials Born after 1980 76 million Now emerging into the workforce
The Matures, born before 1940 • Were children of the Great Depression and World War II. • They lived through the Korean War • God, family, and country. • Respect for authority, loyalty, hard work, and dedication. • “heads down, onward and upward”
The Matures • The Dole/Bush/Kennedy/Carter generation • Tom Brokaw called them “Greatest Generation” • Rosie the Riveter and “don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone but me.” • Came of age before and during WWII • Last of the gray flannel suits.
The Matures • Think American Values, civic pride, loyalty, respect for authority, and apple pie. • … attend more symphonies than rock concerts. • …watch more plays than play in softball games. • …eat more steak than tofu.
You know you are a Mature if… • You remember how to entertain yourself when there’s no TV • You remember black and white TV • You mowed a yard with a push mower. • You listened to Ricky Nelson on the radio. • You remember doing ballroom dancing instead of watching it on TV.
People matures remember… • Joe DiMaggio • John Wayne • Benny Goodman • John Glenn and Neil Armstrong • Cassius Clay • Jackie Robinson
Typical mature comments • “I don’t need help crossing the street, remembering numbers, or finding the conference room.” • “I can do more than share stories about the good old days. I can help shape the future.” • “Don’t hesitate to check ALL my refernces from past employers. PLEASE do check so you know what I bring to the table.”
Key Word Loyalty
The Baby Boomers, born between 1940 and 1960, • … grew up during a time of great economic growth and prosperity. • Their lives were influenced by the civil rights movement • women's liberation • the space program • and the Vietnam War.
The Baby Boomers • Place a high value on youth. • …health and wellness, • … personal gratification, • and material wealth. • Baby Boomers are optimistic and believe their generation changed the world.
Boomers • They live to work. • Maintain a sense of optimism. • Are willing to go into debt, betting on future income. • They are team-oriented, • sensitive to feedback, • and driven.
Boomers • …are graying and looking forward to slowing down and enjoying their retirement years. • …they define the generational world as “pre-us,” “us,” and “post-us” • They have never met a problem they couldn’t bluff, or blunder through and then pronounce themselves master of…and write a book about it.
Boomers • This is the group that invented “Thank God, its Monday! • And the sixty-hour workweek. • Stay tuned, they will define old and cool and important and success a half dozen or more times before they are done with the world they’ve sworn to make over in their own Sharper Image.
Boomers • Many boomers are locked into paying for children in college and parents in nursing homes…”the sandwich generation”.
Typical boomer comments • “I don’t say “far out” anymore. But I still want to reach out to fulfill my career dreams.” • Keep me interested or I’ll leave and start my own company- I have expertise to be your competitor.” • “I paid my dues along the way.”
You know you’re a boomer if… • You knew who Elvis was before he wore sequins. • Your favorite toy was a hula hoop. • You used a typewriter to write your term papers. • You saw every episode of Leave it to Beaver
Names Boomers recognize • Martin Luther king • JFK • John Glenn • The Beatles • Bobby Kennedy • Kent State University
Key Word Optimistic
Generation Xers, born between 1960 and 1980 • Independent, resilient and adaptable. • But feel strongly that they don’t want anyone looking over their shoulder • Saw their parents get laid off or face job insecurity and lose pensions.
Gen X They are a product of self-centered, work-driven Baby Boomer parents. They grew up with: • Watergate, the Brady Bunch, Izod, microwaves, ET, Sesame Street, VCRs, MTV, and Cabbage Patch Kids, • Divorce and their working moms created latchkey kids.
Gen Xers, • The first generation to embrace the personal computer and the Internet. • They welcome diversity, • believe in balance in their lives. • Key Words are Freedom, flexibility, and balance.
Gen X • are self-reliant, • value free time, • learning, • and having fun.
The Xers want freedom in all aspects of their lives. • They want what they want NOW! • They communicate by e-mail and via the internet. • They want short-term opportunities that allow them to act independently, • and with a flexible timeline.
The needs and values of Gen X • They use meetings as a learning opportunity, rather than as a social event. • Today’s young leaders act first and evaluate later • This rapid response decision-making is a characteristic of today’s younger people.