Thriving in the Tri-generational Workplace

How to understand, relate to, and motivate across the generational differences.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation Xers (born 1965-1980) and Millennials (born after 1980) come to the workplace with different experiences, skills, priorities, and expectations. Critically, that means often what motivates one generation couldn’t be more different than what motivates another.

Your success – whether as a leader, a team member or a consultant – is directly linked to your ability to motivate others. Although it’s impossible to draw neat boundaries along generational lines and unproductive to over generalize, we are each, in part, a product of our time. Use this generational knowledge, along with your instincts and your specific knowledge of those you work with, to better understand, relate to and motivate them.

Baby Boomers are often motivated by outward signs of success, such as titles, status within the organization and perks. For them, long hours and heavy travel schedules have always been accepted as part of the territory as long as they are helping them get up the next rung on the ladder. They are also motivated by a sense of purpose; and they are natural team players. For Baby Boomers, it’s about feeling appreciated and not feeling over the hill.

On the other hand, Generation Xers typically value work/life balance and freedom. Titles and perks mean little to them, unless they result in money in their pockets and lead to more flexibility. Create choices for Generation Xers, and give them immediate and meaningful rewards for their expertise and contributions.

And then there are the Millennials, who expect praise and promotions but are also looking for a lot of feedback, mentoring, training and a connection to a higher purpose through their work. Millenials enjoy and often prefer working in virtual teams rather than in person. They also don’t favor long hours, preferring to use technology to save time and finish their work in time for happy hour with their friends. Many would rather take advantage of E-learning opportunities than attend live seminars. Create an environment with structure, specific expecations and goals, along with a clear path to success for Millennials. Furthermore, they may respond well to your help to see the “higher good” in the work they do.

For all generations, smart leaders recognize the importance of a positive work environment which encourages fun. It helps every generation manage in good times and bad.


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About piblogger

Author and Host of the PI Window on The World Show on Blog Talk Radio.

One response to “Thriving in the Tri-generational Workplace”

  1. piblogger says :

    I cannot help but believe that perhaps success for Gen-Y Entrepreneurs is the same as it is for all generations whether self-employed or working for a company. Specifically, that a tri or multi-generational view and approach fosters greater collaboration and ultimately success for everyone.

    In short, technological breakthroughs have had an impact on each generation over the years from the advent of the telephone and personal computer to cell phones and now the Internet. The one common theme is that like Hanifan’s definition of social capital when we all succeed collectively we can also experience our greatest successes individually.

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