Thursday, June 30, 2016

Talkin' Bout My Generation

At a recent Rotary meeting, I heard a presentation on generational differences and their impact on the workplace.  It was a fascinating presentation and I did some more research on the web and thought I would share some of the things I learned.  First, I learned that the generation titles and years vary from source to source, but I've tried to consolidate them as best as I could to get the most agreed upon groups. Here are the four main generational groups and some of the key characteristics of each:

sources: WMFC and Career Planner

Silent (or Traditional) Generation: Percent of workplace 5%
Attributes: Committed to company, Competent, Conservative, Respectful of authority, Strong work ethic.
Preferred Work Environment: Hierarchal, Clear chain of command, Top-down management
Keys to Working With: Work is not meant to be fun, Follow rules and know procedures, Like the personal touch
Feedback and Rewards: No news is good news, Satisfaction is a job well done, Subtle and private recognition

Baby Boomers: Percent of workplace 45%
Attributes: Ability to handle a crisis, Competitive, Strong work ethic, Willing to take on responsibility
Preferred Work Environment: "Flat" organizational hierarchy, Democratic, Equal opportunity
Keys to Working With: Want to know their ideas matter, Do well in teams, Want to know why things matter and how they fit into the big picture, Careers often define them
Feedback and Rewards: Title recognition, May display awards and certificates of recognition, Enjoy monetary rewards, Enjoy public recognition

Generation X: Percent of workplace 40%
Attributes: Adaptable, Independent, Focus on results, Self-starters, Strong work/life balance
Preferred Work Environment: Fun and positive, Efficient, Informal
Keys to Working With: Want independence in the workplace, Allow to have fun at work, Give them the latest technology
Feedback and Rewards: Freedom/time off is best reward, Like specific feedback and coaching but prefer a hands-off supervisory style

Millennials (Generation Y): Percent of workplace 10%
Attributes: Global way of thinking, fiercely independent, loyal to peers, respect given to competency not title, techno savvy
Preferred Work Environment: Collaborative, Highly creative, Diverse, Fun, Want continuous feedback
Keys to Working With: Interactive work environment, Want to work with friends, Provide rational for work you've asked them to do and the value it adds, Provide variety
Feedback and Rewards: Communicate frequently and give feedback often, Be clear with goals and expectations

I tried to narrow the information down to workplace information specifically.  I realize that these definitions and descriptions are broad-based and do not apply to all people that fall into these generational groups.  Notice that each generation brings with it their own set of positive attributes and unique contributions to the workplace!  It shows that there is no "right or wrong" way to look at the workplace, but rather that our generational experiences color the way we perceive things and influence the ways we are motivated and interact at work.  As educators, it's important for us to realize the differences in the workplace generations, because we may have several different generations on our school team (district, building, and grade level teams).  It's also important to understand that our students (and the parents of our students) may be motivated by different factors than we are.  The more we understand what each generation brings to the table, the better we can collaborate as a staff and the better we can serve the youngest generation...our students!

Just because it's a fun song (and video:)


"Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes." - Khalil Gibran

Isn't it a shame that future generations can't be here to see all the wonderful things we're doing with their money?" - Earl Wilson

"The reason people blame things on previous generations is that there's only one other choice." - Doug Larson


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