Breaking the Barriers of Multigenerational Diversity

The_original_gen_x_color Today I have the distinct honor of speaking to the NAIFA, a group of independent insurance and financial advisors, at their quarterly awards luncheon about building trust in a multigenerational world.  The post below is a reprint of one created for the Des Moines Register on the topic of multigenerational diversity.  Enjoy!

"The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five every morning- and the younger generation doesn’t think much of it either!" – John J. Welsch

When coaching leaders and managers, one of the most common concerns I hear from them is how to manage and motivate other generations.  Miscommunication and misperception abound. This can lead to loss of productivity. What is a manager to do?

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the American workplace.  If you understand the differences between the four generations, then you can set realistic performance expectations for each.  Ignoring the differences will only cause frustration for both you and the people you manage.

  • "Traditionalists"range in age from 62-85.  They value hard work, respect, sacrifice in the work place.  For them, duty comes before fun. 
  • "Baby Boomers" range in age from 43-61.  At work they value personal fulfillment, efficiency, working for a cause. 
  • "Gen X’ers", age 27-42, value self-reliance, but usually need highly structured environments and direction to succeed.  Our youngest generation,
  • "Gen Y", is made up of those under 26 years old.  They are extremely entrepreneurial, technologically savvy, and always asking "what’s next?"

The key to motivating people is to understand what is important to them, and then tap into those values to help them perform better in the workplace.  Many of the new managers that I work with need some help with this success principle.

If employees feel understood and appreciated for who they are and what they believe, they will go well above expectations to perform.  You will have a very happy, productive work team.  Go ahead, give it a try.

Photo from Flickr

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