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Clashing at Work – Who Are the Generations?

I was recently meeting with one of the senior leadership team members of one of my San Francisco Bay Area clients. She was struggling to deal with the conflict between supervisors who had been on the job for a number of years and new and younger employees.

The younger employees wanted coaching and more formal mentoring from their supervisors. The supervisors were very frustrated with the performance review process with newer employees. The newer employees were complaining about perceived favoritism.

We had a great discussion with the senior leadership team members on how the different generations view the workplace. They often have different values that clash.

I suggested a good place to start before jumping in with ideas to create a more cohesive workforce, was to have a discussion about who are the generations? What motivates the different age groups?

Learning how to work, live and play together is crucial, and every manager must master ways to bridge generational gaps. Managerial survival calls for a coordinated, collaborative strategy to leverage each generation’s strengths and neutralize its liabilities.

Who Are the Generations?

A quick review of how the generations are grouped in the modern workplace:

1. Veterans, born between 1922 and 1945 (52 million people). This cohort was born before or during World War II. Earliest experiences are associated with this world event. Some also remember the Great Depression.

2. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 (77 million people). This generation was born during or after World War II and was raised in an era of extreme optimism, opportunity and progress. Boomers, for the most part, grew up in two-parent households, with safe schools, job security and post-war prosperity. They represent just under half of all U.S. workers. On the job, they value loyalty, respect the organizational hierarchy and generally wait their turn for advancement.

3. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979 (70.1 million people). These workers  were born during a rapidly changing social climate and economic recession, including Asian competition. They grew up in two-career families with rising divorce rates, downsizing and the dawn of the high-tech/information age. On the job, they can be fiercely independent, like to be in control and want fast feedback.

                  4. Generation Y (the New Millennials), born between 1980 and 2000 (estimated to be 80–90 million).
                   Born to Boomer and early Gen Xer parents into our current high-tech, neo-optimistic times, these are
                   our youngest workers. They are the most technologically adept, fast learners and tend to be impatient.
   
Gen X and Y comprise half the U.S. work force. Baby Boomers account for 45%, and the remaining 5% are veterans (many of whom are charged with motivating newer employees).

One of the most important questions to ask is “Who are the generations and what motivates each group?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their high performance leadership development program.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you better understand generational differences. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders. Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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