Oct 072020
 

One of the most important things to consider when trying to understand differences in views held by different groups of people, such as cultures, is the common values held by the groups. This certainly applies to understanding differences in generational groups and can be helpful in providing insight into some of the reasons their views in the workplace are not only different but often conflicting.

Baby Boomers are known for their respect for tradition, hard work, and use of soft skills. They typically have patience and are the group that started looking at emotional quotient (EQ) as an important factor in evaluating performance.

Generation X is known for their practicality, openness, and respect for diversity. They are also very curious and like change along with respecting hard work and knowledge.

Millennials look for freedom of information and more general or superficial (i.e. larger breadth of) knowledge rather than detailed expertise in a single area. They are success oriented and creative.

Generation Z has grown up with rapid information access and content search. They live for the present with immediate reactions to everything. They also tend to be initiators.

We see a constant increase in diversity with each generation which adds to the variety in ideas and creativity. We also see an accelerating speed of access to information with each generation which allows each successive group to have more information available faster but decreases their requirement to learn and comprehend details. This has led to quicker decision making with less problem solving associated with it. This leads to more trial and error approaches.

When you put these things and many other differences together, you can begin to see some of the sources of misunderstandings between generations. For example, why older generations believe younger workers don’t think through solutions before reacting. And on the other side, why younger generations accuse older workers of taking too much time to analyze before making decisions. When each individual takes time to understand the values and the approach of the person who has a different perspective, they are more likely to reach a point where they can agree on an approach that considers all views.

Buy your copy of the book Millennials Taking the Lead on Amazon

Sep 192020
 

The next generational cohort following Millennials is currently referred to as Generation Z. Sometimes it takes a while for a name to stick with a generational cohort, just as Millennials are also called Generation Y because they followed Generation X, but also had a multitude of other names before the majority settled on calling them Millennials. After that there has been a tendency to continue the alphabet. Some are referring to the generation of babies being born at this time as Generation A or AA or Alpha, starting back at the beginning of the alphabet. Only time will determine how that evolves.

Generational studies are not an exact science and the next big question is when does Generation Z start. Since I started my research more than 15 years ago, I have been following some of the leaders in this area designating Millennials as those born between 1980 and 2000 even though not everyone agrees with those years. That’s a big age span and many, especially the Millennials, will say there is a big difference between the older and younger Millennials. For that reason, I often divide them at the middle and call them the older and younger Millennials. Pew Research, regarded as an authority on collecting and evaluating data and trends, has recently revised the dates for Millennials and Generation Z. They now classify Millennials as individuals born between 1980 and 1996 and Generation Z as those born 1997 and later. No one seems ready to set the lower age of Generation Z yet.

Generation Z has it’s own set of characteristics that make it unique. To start with, they are the first truly digital natives, having grown up in a time when the Internet was available, cell phones were common, and social media kept everyone connected. They have no memory of a world before smartphones. This is a very well-educated and a very diverse generational cohort. I will be researching and looking more into how this affects them as leaders and what possible leadership styles will be dominant for this group and will keep you updated on my findings.

Sep 082020
 

This week was my first time to be featured as a guest blogger. I felt honored to be asked, especially considering the great work Ashley Freeman is doing to inspire others through Flourishing Work.

This is a great time for Millennials to step up and use the leadership traits they excel in to provide excellent leadership for their organization or cause. Four areas in which Millennials have an advantage over their older co-workers are: technology, passion, collaboration, and social consciousness. Read what I wrote about this at http://bit.ly/guest-blog-millennials  and check out what Ashley’s doing while you are there.

Sep 042020
 

Even before the pandemic there was starting to be a shift in how we work, but now it seems even more pronounced. What we have referred to as work life balance for years has become work life blend. As younger, more tech savvy individuals start to dominate the workplace and the technology continues to advance, the idea of having work with you all the time becomes more of a reality. At first this was looked at as an advantage by the digital natives who could leave the office and still be available if they were needed. But to some it became a burden as they realized they could never get away from work. What seemed to be a good way of balancing life with work was becoming a blend of perpetual life and work with little distinction.

Then along came COVID-19 and changed everything. With the quarantines and work from home orders, the ability to work from home and balance the rest of life was a real bonus for the technically adept generation. At the same time, it was a headache of how to learn to rely on technology for those, mostly older workers, who were not comfortable with technology.

How well you adapt to these changes can depend on your age or what generational group you fit with. What’s changed over the years? If you look at different generational groups and their view of work, a lot has changed.

Generational Group How they look at work What’s work life balance?
Veteran Sacrifice, hard work, respect for authority, separation of work and family Balance involves defined roles keeping work and home life separated.
Baby Boomer Long hours, teamwork, consensus Balance means juggling everything while I look for meaning in my life.
Generation X Self reliance, creativity, adaptability I want to find balance now, not when I’m 65.
Millennial Speed, networking, problem solving, engaging with authority, meeting challenges with optimism Work isn’t everything. I need flexibility so I can balance all my activities (family, friends, community service).

 

As the next generation of leaders recognizes the value of life and their purpose for work as more than earning as much recognition or money as possible, the priorities change.  Looking after family, spending time with each other, and taking care of those in the community in need of help all become important parts of the equation.

As Generation Z enters the workforce with no memory of life before smartphones, staying connected and blending all parts of life as needed may seem natural, unless they begin to find a way to make a clear distinction between different aspects of their online life and separate their work and non-work life.