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Understanding Generational

Differences in the Workplace


Myrna Ann Adkins
Stefan Adkins
Erika Taylor
2009 Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning
All rights reserved
What is a Generation?
A group of generally
contemporaneous individuals
regarded as having common
cultural or social
characteristics and attitudes
Generations at Work
Four Generations at Work
Traditionalists (Matures):
Born 1922 1945
Baby Boomers:
Born 1946
1964
Generation X:
Born 1965
1980
Millennials (Generation
Born 1981 2001
Y, Nexters):
Cuspers
Generations at Work
What are the shared events that
happened during each generations
impressionable years?
Headlines
Leadership
Cultural Events
How might these events influence
each generations values?
Shared (historical) Events
Columbine
school
Technology
focused world
Traditionalists
1922 - 1945
Baby
Boomers
1946 - 1964
Gen Xers
1965 - 1980
Millennials
1980 - 2001
Great
Depression
The New
Deal
World War II
FDR One
president
Korean War
Civil
Rights
movement
Sexual
Revolution
Rock &
Roll
Cold War
Space
Travel
Assassina
tions
Watergate
Womens
Liberation
Energy
Crisis
Space
Shuttle
Challenger
explodes
Desert
Storm
Oklahoma
City Bombing
and other
shootings
Child
Clinton/Lewin
sky
9/11/
Personal and Lifestyle Characteristics
extreme fun
phones, i-
save
Traditionalists
1922 - 1945
Baby Boomers
1946 - 1964
Gen Xers
1965 - 1980
Millennials
1980 - 2001
Core values Respect
authority,
Conformers,
Discipline
Optimism,
involvement
Skepticism,
informality,
fun
Realism,
confidence,
social,
Family Traditional,
nuclear
Disintegrating Latch-key
kids
Merged
families,
coddled kids
Education A dream A birthright A way to get
there
An incredible
expense
Communication Rotary phones,
One-on-one,
Write a memo
Touch-tone
phones,
Call me anytime
Cell phones; if
its about work,
only call me at
work
Internet, e-
mail, picture
pods
Money Put it away,
Pay cash,
Save, save,
save
Buy now, pay
later
Cautious,
conservative,
Earn to spend
Workplace Characteristics
Tolerant,
skeptical
Traditionalists
1922 - 1945
Baby Boomers
1946 - 1964
Gen Xers
1965 - 1980
Millennials
1980 - 2001
Work Ethic Work hard; pay
your dues
Respect
authority,
loyal and
unquestioning,
Follow rules
Workaholics,
Work efficiently,
Personal
fulfillment,
Desire quality,
Question
authority
Eliminate the
task,
Self-reliance,
Want
structure and
direction,
Whats next?
Multitasking,
Tenacity,
Goal oriented
Work is An obligation An exciting
adventure
A difficult
challenge,
A contract
A means to
an end,
fulfillment
Work/Life
balance
Never the twain
shall meet
No balance,
Work to live
Balance Balance
Leadership style Directive,
Command-and-
control
Consensual,
Collegial
Everyone is
the same,
Challenge
others,
Ask why
TBD
Interactive style Individual Team player Entrepreneur participative
Communications Formal memo In person Direct,
Immediate
E-mail,
Voice mail
Workplace Characteristics
bright and
be a part of
Need to have
Traditionalists
1922 - 1945
Baby Boomers
1946 - 1964
Gen Xers
1965 - 1980
Millennials
1980 - 2001
Providing
feedback
No news is good
news
Official
feedback once
a year
Coaching,
hands off type
of supervisory
style
Like to be give
feedback often
and will ask
often
Messages that
motivate
Your experience
is respected
You are valued,
You are needed
Do it your
way,
Forget the
rules
You will work
with other
creative people
Rewards and
compensation
Satisfaction in a
job well done
Like to be
recognized for
achievements,
Money,
Title recognition
Fair
compensation
Opportunities
to earn extra,
time off,
Enjoyable
atmosphere
where work
isnt taken too
seriously
Seek
opportunities
to take on and
projects,
fun,
Need to have a
sense of
control over
their
environment
Training and
Development
Training should
contribute to the
organizations
goals
Training is a
contribution to
the
organizations
goals, but also a
path to
promotion and
compensation
Training
enhances
versatility in
the
marketplace
and
investment in
their future
Willing and
eager to take
risks, dont
mind making
mistakes
they consider
this a learning
opportunity
Retirement Put in 30 years,
retire and live off
pension and
savings
If I retire who
am I? I havent
saved any
money, so I
need to work
I may retire
early; Ive
saved my
money
TBD
Books
When Generations Collide:

Who They Are. Why
Clash. How to Solve
Generational Puzzle
They
the
at Work
~Lynne C. Lancaster
Generations at Work:
Managing the Clash of
Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and
Nexters in Your Workplace
~Ron Zemke
To Listen

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