Three generations—and sometimes four—are active and critical to the American workplace. Since the four or five of us who created this field of study finally got American business to embrace generational strategy right around the year 2000, it has skyrocketed in strategic importance in virtually every area of American enterprise: business, government, education, religion and our nation’s other institutions.
The skillful use of Generational Strategy is imperative in the workplace and marketplace, classroom and house of worship and in American living rooms because we now understand that each generation possesses unique core values, burned into them during their unique formative years, that guide their decision-making for life.
workplace, each generation brings unique values, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses to work every day. Management must be trained in generational dynamics and develop a generational “gearbox” that enables them to understand each generation and smoothly shift from dealing with one generation of employees to the next, minute-by-minute and decade-by-decade.
A brief overview of the four generations active in the American workplace:
Current age is 67 to 85; more physically and mentally fit at this age than any prior generation; possess skills younger generations don’t; lots of wisdom, maturity, and experience; excellent interpersonal skills, which show up in customer service; loyal to employers; team players; only weaknesses: possible lack of technology proficiency and might be set in their ways.
Current age is 48 to 66; the Golden Generation in the American workplace; ethical, driven, compassionate, willing to lead; team players who will care about others as much as themselves; willing to go the extra mile for the organization; shortcomings: might be getting set in their ways and be unreceptive to change; and, trying to stay abreast of—and skilled with—the technology revolution.
Current age is 31 to 47; after a comparatively difficult childhood, X’ers got off to a rocky start in their careers—job hoppers; self-focused; reluctant to work overtime; cynical and skeptical; but now, X’ers are finding their stride, gaining control of their lives and feeling a stake in the outcome of America; self-reliant, independent, tech-savvy, brilliant at finding solutions; the “family-first” generation still doesn’t want to be workaholics, but now understands that life is seldom a perfect 40-hour week; when they replace Boomer leaders, they’ll be brilliant at Idea Leadership but will struggle—they’ll tell you they already are struggling—with People Leadership.
Millennials (do not call us Generation Y!!!)
Generational study is not reliable until we get out of high school, so legitimate generational study (and there is lots of illegitimate generational study floating around these days, because the topic is hot and lots of untrained people are slapping “generational consultant” shingles above their office doors; be careful) begins at age 18; the “first-wave Millennials” are currently aged 18 to 30, and we don’t know when they’ll stop; optimistic, idealistic, empowered, engaged in the democracy; will be excellent workers like the Boomers, but have gotten off to a very bad start with employers because of their unrealistic expectations, flawed sense of entitlement, lack of punctuality, unprecedented job-hopping (the average 25-year-old has already had six employers) and requests for immediate flex-time and vacation; strong knowledge of technology and an excellent career spirit; Mils will “kick in” soon, and when they do, they’ll be ethical, compassionate career people who will want to use their work to make the world a better place; as brutal
as it sounds, The Great Recession has been a good wakeup call for them.
Generational Workforce Diversity and Management Strategy
If your organization’s supervisory and executive team is fully trained in Generational Workforce Diversity and Management Strategy, it will be successful in:
- Recruiting the best employees from each generation
- Onboarding each generation smoothly, in those critical first few hours, days and weeks
- Training them appropriately
- Managing them effectively
- And, retaining them
If your management is not trained in Generational Workforce Diversity and Management Strategy and your competitors are?