In my previous Blog on The Millennial generation, I addressed how cultural and social attitudes such as that of our peers are marked by the year we were born in. Millennial students like learning opportunities, they follow honest leaders, and they have a good sense of humor. The Millennial believes it is â€śbeastâ€ť to be smart and identify with the values of those of their parents. Millennial are easily mesmerized by new technology, but what are the Millennials like at work?
There are at least four generations that work and live together today.
- The Millennial represented by those born in 1982, and are now 30 years old and younger.
- The Generation X whose workforce is between the age range of 25 and 47.
- The Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964, the oldest are now 66 years old.
- Then the one called The Silent Generation whose age range between 67 and 87 years old.
So, how is the environment affected in the workplace when you have groups of people with different values and distinct personalities working together? What is it like to work with individuals with different ideas and ways of getting things done? What are the problems that can arise, from such collision of generations?
Howe and Strauss characterize cultural generations and their types into 25 groups. These groups are then subdivided into 7 Saeculum. â€śSaeculum is a period of history approximately equal in length to one long human lifeâ€ť. The hypothesis behind it is that society has a regular cycle.
Strauss and Howe define generation as â€śthe aggregate of all people born over a span of roughly twenty years, or about the length of one phase of life: childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and old age.â€ťÂ Generations are divided by age location in history they share.Â Secondly, by their common beliefs and behaviors in the era they were born in. And third by the awareness of what they experience in being unique to them only, as a group creating sort of what Howe and Straus have called â€śa common perceived membershipâ€ť.
What do we know about each of the four generational groups? The Silent Generation is the oldest of the four between 1920 and 1945. Important events in their lives consisted of, the great Depression in 1929, and WWII. They are your hardworking, patriotic and loyal employees. They believe in staying with the company for a long time. They believe in making their employer their lifetime career. They are very conventional and believe in family values.
The Baby Boomers are born between 1946 and 1964. Important events in their time were Womenâ€™s Lib, The Vietnam War, the walk on the moon, and Kennedyâ€™s death. They are optimistic, dedicated and self-centered. They are non-conventional. They are the buy now pay later generation. Credit is fine. Independence is the key and families are disintegrated. They were surrounded by the Hippie Movement, Woodstock and The Beatles. They believe in building a stellar career.
The Generation X has different authors giving different starting dates. Howe and Strauss mark it from 1961 to 1981. They are surrounded by the resignation of President Nixon, The Beatles break up and the death of Elvis Presley. It was also the beginning of the discovery of a new plague called AIDS as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King and John Lennon.Â Â They are described as self-reliant, and technologically adept. They are cautious, family oriented, conservative and believe in saving. At the workplace they believe in freedom and responsibility. Some authors believe that they are the ones who would like a portable career. They are the ones raised in a time of hip hop, Desert Storm, MTV, and cable TV. Many of them were the latch-key kids.
At the end, we have the Millennial who are described as confident, and moralistic. They were surrounded by gay right movements, 9/11, and the Iraq War. They are your team players. They believe that work isnâ€™t everything and that flexibility in the workplace is important. They are generally optimistic and are surrounded by i pods, i pads and more. You can read more on Millennials in my last Blog posted on March 7, 2012.
In an article written by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman wrote the following about generational clash â€śGenerations clash about feedback style as well as format: formal vs. frank, verbal vs. written, e-mail vs. memo, on the spot vs. a set time. Put all of these styles together and the feedback a Traditionalist thinks is informative and helpful can seem formal and preachy to the Boomers and the Xers. Feedback to a Boomer may think is fair and judicious , but then seem uptight and overly political to a Generation Xer or a Traditionalist. Feedback a Generation Xer thinks is immediate and honest can seem hasty or even inappropriate to the other generations. Clearly, the generations have not signed off on what the feedback contract is supposed to look like.â€ť
This is why â€śLook at whoâ€™s talking!â€ť
Do you believe in Cultural Generation has an influence in the workforce? Would this influence your decision on who to hire? Who would you prefer to work with or for?
How would you lead in a multigenerational workforce?
Share your thoughts.