In Small Groups…. • Do you have a story to tell in which two or more generations collided at work?
Generation Gaps: Why We Struggle Social experiences News headlines Political Experiences Economic Conditions Size of the Cohort Shared Life Experiences Pop Culture
Builders/ Veterans Born 1925- 1945 Baby Boomers Born 1946- 1964 80 Million 56 Million Generation “X” Born 1965- 1977 Millennials/ Gen “Y” Born 1978- 1996 38 Million 78 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
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
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
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
Shared Values of All Generations -- Ben Rosen, Ph.D., UNC-CH Kenan-Flagler Business School
All generations agreed that the ideal leader… -- 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.