Posts by :
- 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
There are five living generations of Americans:
|1||G. I.||age in 2012 is 86+||2||Silent||age is 67 to 85||3||Boomer||age 47 to 66||4||GenX||age 31 to 47||5||Millennials||age 18 to 30, and still coming|
Each generation possesses different preferences and needs as consumers and customers. Each possesses unique likes and dislikes regarding the manner in which you pitch and sell your product or service to them.
And so, when working in sales and/or customer/client service, you must develop a “generational gearbox” that enables you to understand these generational
differences and shift smoothly from dealing with a member of one generation to a member of another.
A training program in Generational Selling and Customer Service Strategy is usually a half-day or full-day program. Here is three minutes’ worth:
G. I.s and Silents
They came of age buying clothing, insurance, hamburger, furniture and just about everything else from salespeople who were also the shop owners and their neighbors and friends. The hardware store was locally owned and operated, not part of an impersonal coast-to-coast chain. Because of this intimacy, salespeople were overwhelmingly ethical, fair, courteous and skilled in customer service. They couldn’t hide behind today’s anonymity afforded by technology and layers of corporate gobbledygook. I refer to this as the “pre-mall” era, which lasted until roughly the 1970’s.
Want to connect with G. I.
and Silent consumers today? Human interaction, not digital. Look them in the eye. Transparency. Honesty. GenX and Millennial salespeople: talk more slowly and clearly, not because they can’t keep up with you but because salespeople of your generations frequently sound rushed and this is a red flag to these generations. Don’t behave like telemarketing call centers—how many customers can I process in the shortest amount of time?—but instead like someone who truly wants to put each customer #1 and yourself #2 and wants an evaluation by the customer of A+ … six months from now.
Boomers worked their tails off for decades. As a result, they now control a disproportionate percentage of our country’s wealth; which means every slimy, carpetbagging hustler has tried to pitch this generation every conceivable product and service. Don’t try to trick them; you can’t. They’ve seen and heard it all.
Want to get a Boomer to read the SECOND sentence of your direct-mail piece? Then earn her with your first sentence. The moment your message drifts from “fact” and “relevance” is the moment you’ll lose them.
The world’s first computer generation. Before buying your product or service, they’re likely to do their homework online. They are also America’s most time-poor generation, juggling career and marriage and parenthood. And so? Audit your company’s website for ease of navigation and speed. Because this generation came of age during the birth and growth of cable television with kid-dedicated channels, X’ers—like Boomers—are very street-smart when it comes to marketing. They also enjoy little sense of financial security and job stability, so cost-value is a prominent consideration in their purchasing.
This generation came of age just as common courtesy in America was taking a hit. So although they’ll appreciate it, X’ers do not place the same high premium on it as the older three generations do. GenX is a no-nonsense, get-me-from-point-a-to-point-b-as-efficiently-as-possible generation. And that’s the operative word when selling to, and serving, this generation of customers: efficiency.
As kids, they enjoyed significant purchasing power, thanks to dear ol’ Mom and Dad. So they’re marketing-savvy. Where GenX is our computer generation, Mils are our Tech Generation. They’ve grown up dominated by technology, and we’re finding there is extreme good and extreme bad to that.
They also usually trust online, although they’ve now seen the down side of placing their entire lives on MySpace and Facebook. And speaking of Facebook, they’ve moved on. In my training seminars, I routinely ask Millennial audience members if, one year from now, they feel their generation will be spending more time on Facebook, less or about the same. Overwhelmingly, they answer much less.
Marketers and salespeople must be careful to not invade online spaces that Millennials want to keep pitch-free. Which sites? By the time I typed them here, their answer would have changed.
Good customer service to this generation is an app. A close relationship with a salesperson is texting.
But this is also an outgoing, people-friendly generation. Where X’ers are a little more solitary, Mils are very much group-think, we-think, us-think. And they love their parents and include them in their big decisions. Want to sell to a Millennial? Then involve their friends and parents.
Generational business strategy finally began to emerge in the very late 1990s, after a few of us had scratched and clawed for about 15 years to create and develop it and then try to convince American business, government and education that th
e term “generation” meant far more than anyone recognized.
In the past dozen years, Generational Marketplace Strategy and Generational Workplace Strategy have proven themselves—spectacularly so—and become imperative training for all of us.
And here is an important new application of this field of study:
Generational Leadership Transition
In a nutshell:
Each generation takes its turn at the top. Its members begin their work years at entry level.
The best—or luckiest—of them climb the ladder during their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. And then, when the moment arrives that their generation’s oldest members reach retirement age—about 65—and the rest of them trail down in age through their 50s and 40s, their generation BEGINS its leadership era, replacing the retiring generation.
And when this new generation takes over, it installs its own unique—and powerful—core values throughout American life: business, government, education, religion and our other institutions. These unique core values were burned into them by the unique times and teachings of their generation’s formative years, roughly the first 18 to 23 years of their lives.
It takes a few years for a new leadership generation to disentangle from the prior generation’s two decades of leadership, but when it does, its unique core values push America in a direction that is significantly—and often profoundly—different from the direction of the prior generation.
Such is the power of generational leadership.
A snapshot of our five living generations as leaders:
G. I. Generation
Current age is 86+; immortalized by Tom Brokaw’s book as The Greatest Generation; from formative years of The Great Depression and World War II, G. I.’s grew up compassionate, caring, helping and ethical with a strong sense of nation and “we’re all in this
together”; fearless, bold and visionary leaders; corporate presidents cared as much about the janitor in the basement as his vice-presidents in the executive suites; when America soared after WWII, it was the G. I. leadership era guiding the highest quality of life in American history.
Current age is 67 to 85; the final leadership era dominated by white men; Silents proved to be magnificent in the so-called helping professions, giving America a bumper crop of skilled educators, healthcare practitioners and others; but their formative years—the 1930s into the early ‘60s—molded in them unique core values that would position them poorly for leadership; uniquely vulnerable to greed and, with it, corruption; less action-oriented and visionary; the American leadership crisis of the 1990s and 2000s will always rest squarely in the lap of the White Silent Male.
Current age is 48 to 66; their formative years—the 1950s to the early ‘80s—delivered times and teachings that give this generation no excuse as it begins its leadership era in 2011-2012; if Boomers do not now give America optimistic, bold, visionary, ethical and compassionate leadership, they will have fallen spectacularly on their faces; Boomers become the first generation whose leadership will be dual-gender and multi-ethnic, thanks to the Feminist and Civil Rights Movements they championed in their youth and early adulthood; their generation’s leadership era will continue into the 2030s and perhaps beyond as modern medicine elongates our life expectancy and career passage.
Current age is 31 to 47; because of their unique formative years, X’ers possess core values that will enable them to give America brilliant IDEA leadership when they lead the nation from sometime in the 2030s into the 2050s; but as they are already demonstrating as they enter mid-management and some upper-management levels, they will struggle with PEOPLE leadership; they tell me they’re struggling to understand and manage the younger Millennials and to gain the respect of older Boomer subordinates.
Current age is 18 to 30, and their generation is still coming; we don’t yet know in what birth year Mils will end and the next generation will begin; Mils are showing the promise of giving America the kind of leadership greatness that G. I.’s gave and Boomers should give; optimistic, ethical, compassionate, visionary and bold; but it is likely Millennials will profoundly alter the traditional leadership hierarchy; look for multiple CEO’s and virtual Boards of Directors and much more decision-by-consensus.
For the first time in history, generational study—and strategy—are in place to help each generation identify its likely leadership strengths and weaknesses. Boomers, X’ers and Millennials can benefit from this knowledge. In a current-day America of gloom, outrage and embarrassment at our plummeting world reputation, training in Generational Leadership offers the promise of a better day.
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:
If your management is not trained in Generational Workforce Diversity and Management Strategy and your competitors are?