“Baby boomers can’t adapt. Gen X think they know everything. Millennials are lazy. Don’t even get me started on Gen Z!”
Sound familiar? Sure, we’ve all heard the stereotypes, and maybe some of them are true, but did you know that each generation also has one single, solitary thing in common?
The thing that each generation has in common is that they are different than the previous generations (sorry, that was more of a trick question!) That doesn’t mean that any one generation is better or worse than the others, because each generation brings a unique and necessary set of skills to the workforce. That said, with such a vast age gap, it’s not hard to see why employers and leaders struggle to figure out how to effectively manage, communicate with and motivate such a varied workforce.
If this sounds like you, consider these characteristics about each of the generations, as well as some quick tips to help manage them:
Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)
It’s no surprise that Baby Boomers are hard workers and very ambitious, often hanging their hats on their work success. This generation demands little to no management, as they’re extremely self-sufficient, all the while remaining tremendously loyal to their employer. They like structure, discipline and a competitive environment and thrive on both setting and achieving goals. They’re collaborative, often preferring face-to-face meetings versus virtual ones.
- Set employee goals and celebrate this individual’s success when they achieve them
- Communicate more effectively with these individuals by skipping the email and picking up the phone instead. Better yet, speak with him/her face to face
- Don’t micromanage. Instead, give these individuals autonomy
Generation X (1965-1980)
The first generation to value a work/life balance, the Gen X-ers will work smarter, not harder, to free up more time for their personal lives. They mostly more well-educated than their predecessors, and value a fun workplace. They’re independent and would prefer to work as such, and are not impressed by hierarchy or title. They’re highly productive and not afraid to question the status quo.
- Consider programs that aid in a better work/life balance
- Minimize collaborative environments and group projects
- Use their work smarter, not harder, attitude to improve processes and efficiencies
Millennials (1981 – 1997)
Diverse and ethical, Millennials are on a mission to change the world. They’re globally focused on making the world a better place, and put a huge emphasis on life experiences. Coined, “the most educated generation”, this group is extremely intelligent, has an innate ability to think outside the box and is often multitasking. They can lack patience, and require more regular recognition, but their optimism and thirst for knowledge makes up for it.
- Recognition, recognition, recognition
- Utilize their thirst for knowledge and allow these individuals to obtain additional certifications, cross-train, or continue their education to better themselves and your organization
- Allow these individuals to support the greater good by implementing volunteering programs or charitable causes they can rally around
Generation Z (1997 – 2010)
If you are looking for the most technologically advanced of all the generations, then look no further than Gen Z! These individuals were practically born with a screen in their hand. They put a huge emphasis on their future, often opting to save over splurge. They are pragmatic, and value authenticity. Their decisions are often accompanied with extensive research, but they’re hard workers and will put in the effort to obtain success rather than waiting for it to be handed to them. This generation generally lacks self-sufficiency and requires more hands-on leadership.
- Honest and truthful communication is key. These individuals thrive on social interaction and companies that are authentic
- Mentorship is a must
- Use their technological advancements to your advantage
While every individual is different, it pays to have an understanding of some of the general tendencies of our working generations. After all, managing a diverse workforce doesn’t have to be daunting!
If you have some generational experiences to share or workplace tidbits that can help others, please continue the conversation in the comments below!