Today’s workplace is filled with men and women from several different age groups. In fact, it is highly likely that there are four different generations of workers within an organization. What is the best way to interact, relate to and motivate workers from these different generations? To answer this question, and many more, Tim Moore addressed the audience at the National Registry Summit, September 24 in Nashville, TN, where he shared a wealth of knowledge about this topic.
Moore, Principal and Owner of Dancing Elephants Achievement Group and part of the team at Generational Insights, said it is important to become more aware of generational differences and challenges, to learn to appreciate and value the different working, leadership and communication styles across the different generations, and to recognize why age diversity can be a strategic advantage for any organization.
Moore opened his presentation with a thought-provoking question.
“Where were you when Kennedy died?” He asked. “Interestingly, the answer to that question varies depending on what era you were born in.”
Moore continued by demonstrating how the answer varies among the four different generations in the workforce today: Matures (67+), Baby Boomers (48-66), Generation X (32-47) and Millennials (15-31), as each generation could answer the question using a different Kennedy. For the remainder of his presentation, Moore focused on the unique characteristics of each generation, introducing each with music and iconic imagery from the time period. His thoughts and comments for each generation are detailed below.
Highly influenced by the Great Depression and World War II, and the fact that more than 70% of families in this generation had a member in the Armed Forces, it is no surprise that Matures have a “We, Us, Team” mentality, compared to the “I, Me, My” mentality of other generations.
In line with that mentality, Moore said that Matures believe in dedication and sacrifice, and that experience will always be the best teacher. They own the largest amount of wealth in the U.S., and they continue to work because they want to.
“This is the generation that shaped the world,” said Moore.
A key to understanding this generation is that its leaders will not award you for simply doing what is expected. In communicating with Matures, it is important to know that they prefer traditional formats, such as face-to-face meetings, and want to be told specifically what is needed from them. In leading Matures, this group is most comfortable with a “Top Down” approach.
At 80 million people, one out of every four Americans is a Baby Boomer, and it is the second-largest generation in this country. The first of the Boomers turned 65 on January 1, 2011, and every single day for the next 18 years, 10,000 Boomers will turn 65. Boomers are optimistic, strong team players who are defined by their jobs, which gives them a “workaholic” mentality and makes many want to work long after they have to.
Moore said the best way to communicate with Baby Boomers is face-to-face or through phone calls, and to focus on team goals. He said it also helps to make things easier and simpler, but be wary of technology-heavy solutions, as only about half of this generation has embraced technology.
He also said Baby Boomers feel leaders should have earned the leadership role, and that leadership should establish clear direction.
Generation X, the children of the Baby Boomers, is a smaller generation due to the advent of the birth control pill in the early 1960s. The introduction of birth control resulted in families with fewer children, but gave parents more time to spend with each child.
Moore said the people in Generation X are more cynical, skeptical and suspicious than their predecessors, and though they believe “experts” deserve questioning, they are the most loyal of the generations.
This generation tends to distrust anything too promotional, and would rather find information on their own from websites and referral sources. They prefer to get straight to the point, and prefer email updates over face-to-face interaction. Generation X leaders tend to lead from afar with a “Just Do It!” attitude, but they honor commitments at all costs, placing a high value on reliability.
Millennials are the largest of the four generations at 85 million people. As the most educated generation in history, Millennials usually have huge goals, but don’t quite know how to accomplish them.
Millennials expect a 24/7 world with high levels of personalization. They tend to have big networks, and can do wonders for your organization through Social Networking.
The best way to communicate with Millennials is to be consultative, taking time to answer their questions as a non-stressful provider of information.
Moore said as leaders, Millennials recognize that work does not equal life, and they expect leadership to be creative and inclusive, while setting broad and challenging targets.
“As they mature, older Millennials are turning out to be some of the best team players,” Moore said.
To sum up the differences between the generations, Moore made the following contrast in terms of what characteristics the generations look for in leadership: Matures think leaders should have integrity. Baby Boomers believe leaders should be humane. Gen X desires leaders to be credible; and Millennials demand leaders to have competence.
For more information, visit the Generational Insights website.