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Intergenerational Communication in the Workplace

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1 Intergenerational Communication in the Workplace
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust 

2 Workshop Goals Increase knowledge and understanding of the four generations Enhance comprehension of how generational differences affect you Promote skills for effective intergenerational communication Expand capacity to manage diverse working styles across the generations

3 Is the Generation Gap Back?
Generational differences represent a critical new aspect to workplace diversity. How you view generational differences is based on your generational perspective.


5 The Four Generations The Traditionalists 1922–1943/46
The Boomers –1960/ Generation X’ers / Millennials

6 The Traditionalists Born between 1922-1943/1946
are now years old Represent 25% of the work population Also known as the:veterans, seniors, traditionalists, silent generation

7 The Baby Boomers Born between 1943-1960/1946-1964*
Now between the ages of 39 and 60 72 million strong Also known as: Boomers

8 The Generation X’ers Born between 1960-1980/1964-1980
Currently 23 – 43 years of age 17 Million Also known as: X’ers, Baby Busters, Post-Boomers

9 The Generation Y’s or Millennials
Born between 1980 and 2000 Under 23 years of age 68 Million Strong Also known as the: Nexters, Nintendo Generation, Internet Generation Most born mid 1980’s Share some characteristics of Gen X Have a consumer mentality re: education Grew up with structured social interactions, i.e., daycare, camp, after school programs Technically savvy Value instant communication Want work to be “fun” and “meaningful.”

10 How Their Times Shaped Them

11 Traditionalists: Defining Events
The Great Depression & Dust Bowl The New Deal Social Security Established Golden Age of Radio Pearl Harbor Attacked WW II and Korean War Patriotism Rise of Labor Unions

12 Traditionalists: Heroes
Superman MacArthur, Patton, Halsey, Montgomery, Eisenhower FDR Winston Churchill Audie Murphy Babe Ruth Joe DiMaggio

13 Boomers: Defining Events
Economic Prosperity Expansion of Suburbia Focus on Children Television Vietnam Assassinations Civil Rights Movement Cold War/McCarthy Hearings Space Race/Moon Landing

14 Baby Boomers: Heroes Ghandi Martin Luther King Jr.
John and Jacqueline Kennedy John Glenn Feminist Movement

15 Gen X’ers: Defining Events
Watergate, Nixon resigns Challenger Disaster Computers Single-parent homes Latchkey Kids MTV AIDS Harsh economic conditions Glasnost, Perestroika Persian Gulf

16 Gen X’ers: Heroes ? Oprah Winfrey Bill Gates & Steve Jobs
Michael Jackson Michael Jordan Things, animation…

17 Millenials: Defining Events
Technology TV Talk Shows Multiculturalism Desert Storm Clinton Scandals Schoolyard Violence Oklahoma City Bombing 9/11 Columbia tragedy

18 Millenials: Heroes ? Michael Jordan Princess Diana Mother Teresa
Tiger Woods Lance Armstrong

19 Comparing the Generations
Traditionalist Baby Boomers Generation Xers Key descriptor Loyal Optimistic Skeptical Notion of command Chain of command Change of command Self-command View of hierarchy Prefer top-down; military Comfortable with top-down Prefer flat What they’re building A legacy A stellar, upward career A portable career Job changing Carries a stigma Puts you behind Is necessary Motivator A job well done Money, title, promotion Self fulfillment, freedom, fun Workplace flexibility Who will do the work? The nerve of those Xers! I’ll go for the right lifestyle

20 Comparing the Generations
Traditionalists Baby Boomers Generation Xers Working long hours Required, prudent Will get you ahead, money, bonus Get a life! Productivity Inputs and outputs matter Input matters most Output is all that matters Give me more… Essentials Money Time Performance reviews If I’m not yelling at you, all is fine. Once a year; well-documented. Sorry to interrupt again, how am I doing? Work-Family Work matters most; wife at home Work matters most; dual career or divorced Family matters; dual career Career paths Slow and steady Ladder Lattice Career pace Prove yourself with loyalty; pay dues Prove yourself with long hours; pay dues I want to know all my options now.

21 Generational Clash in the Workplace
Worldwide economy Rapid change in the workplace Downsizing of companies Mergers, acquisitions, consolidations Elimination of middle management Less union activity in companies Seniority only one element of promotion Technology

22 The Result: No job is safe, and no career assured.
Causes employees to identify more with their generation and blame other generations for workplace problems and issues. The real generational workplace conflict is based on differences in values, ambitions, views, mindsets, and demographics.

23 Traditionalist Values
Dedication/sacrifice Law and order Strong work ethic Risk averse Respect for authority Patience Delayed reward Duty, honor, country Loyalty to the organization

24 Traditionalists at Work
Assets Stable Detail oriented Thorough Loyal Hard working Liabilities Inept w/ambiguity and change Reluctant to buck the system Uncomfortable with conflict Reticent when they disagree

25 Traditionalists: Training & Development
Developing Technology Don’t stereotype as technophobes Use formality and order Don’t rush it Training Take plenty of time Give them the “big picture” Emphasize long-term goals Let them share their experience

26 Messages that Motivate Traditionalists
“Your experience is respected here.” “It’s important for the rest of us to hear what has, and hasn’t, worked in the past.” “Your perseverance is valued and will be rewarded.”

27 Boomer Values Optimism Team work Personal gratification
Health and wellness Promotion and recognition Youth Work Volunteerism

28 Boomers at Work Assets Service oriented Driven
Willing to “go the extra mile” Good at relationships Want to please Good team players Liabilities Not naturally “budget minded” Uncomfortable with conflict Reluctant to go against peers Put process ahead of results Sensitive to feedback Judgmental of those who see things differently

29 Boomers: Training & Development
Focus on the near future Focus on challenges Focus on their role Development Meetings and team team building Provide develop-mental experiences Use business books and training tapes

30 Messages that Motivate Boomers
“You are important to our success. “We recognize your unique and important contribution to our team.” What is your vision for this project?” “You are valued.”

31 Gen X Values Diversity Thinking globally Balance in life
Computer literacy Personal development Fun Informality Independence Initiative

32 Gen X’ers at Work Assets Liabilities Adaptable Impatient
Techno-literate Independent Not intimidated by authority Creative Liabilities Impatient Poor people skills Inexperienced Cynical

33 Gen X’ers: Training & Development
Electronic support Keep materials brief – bullets/checklists Help them train for another job Training Focus on balance Offer them access to many different kinds of information Provide resource lists

34 Messages that Motivate Gen X’ers
“Do it your way.” “We’ve got the latest computer technology.” “There aren’t a lot of rules here.” “We’re not very corporate.”

35 Millennial Values Optimism Civic duty Confidence Ambition/ achievement
Tradition Education Idealism Fun Diversity

36 Millennials at Work Assets Loyalty Optimism Tolerant Multi-tasking
Fast-thinking Technological savvy Liabilities Need for supervision and structure Inexperience, particularly with handling different people issues Service levels are low Rank order of job attributes in order of personal importance: Fun work environment Schedule flexibility Money Professional development Reponsibility Rewards Their youthful, energetic perspectives Their intellect, wit and creativity Their ability, when focused, to get things done You have the opportunity to mentor and develop new professionals and the chance to “stay in touch” with another generation Challenges Lack of reliability Punctuality Scheduling conflicts Lack of motivation Lack of responsibility Insensitivity towards others Can be “unteachable.” What frustrates them – My boss doesn’t really know me My boss doesn’t interact with me very often My boss doesn’t provide me with a good “model” to pattern after; or with clear expectations; or with meaningful work My boss doesn’t take time to train me My boss doesn’t know or reward, what I do My boss is inconsistent My boss is insensitive to my role Clear expectations Ask for input Give responsibility Incrast personal interaction Meaningul balanced feedback Positive work environment Lead by example Recognize effort Reward outcome

37 Millennials: Training & Development
Focus on customer service and interpersonal skills Model the behavior you want to see Large teams with strong leadership Training Take plenty of time Let them know what they do matters Communicate expectations Well written job descriptions Clear performance expectations Effective interview process Structured, thorough orientation Established training plan Performance support systems (mentors, resources, feedback, on-going training, etc.) Focus on the staff’s professional developmment whenever possible Ask for input on policy and procedural decisions, this will allow the staff to create “buy in” to their positions Help them to understand the “process” that goes into all decision making.

38 Messages that Motivate Millennials
“We provide equal opportunities here.” “Your mentor is in his/her sixties.” “You are making a positive difference to our company.” “You handled that situation well.” Clear expectations Ask for input Give responsibility Increase personal interaction Meaningful balanced feedback Positive work environment Lead by example Recognize effort Reward outcome What doesn’t work Threats, anger and other parental responses Micro management Isolation, ignoring Belittling or minimizing contribution Extending chance after chance after chance

39 Using the ACORN Approach
Accommodate employee differences. Create workplace choices. Operate from a flexible management style. Respect competence and initiative. Nourish retention. Source: Generations At Work, Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak

40 “It is axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: Conscious insensitivity is a self- contradiction.” - W.H. Auden

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