If you are working in an organisation where the age profile of its people — management as well as rank-and-file — spans several generations, it will be useful to understand the defining characteristics of each one.
Born in 1945 or earlier
Aged between 69 to 89-plus, they are also called the Traditionalists. They ran companies, their countries and even the world.
Doomers are generally hard-working people with firm ethics, high standards of personal behaviour and often continue to live on modest means. They prefer direct communication and usually read — and believe — what they see.
Most are users of traditional media like newspapers, radio and television, and share the social, political and emotional values of the media they consume.
They expect you to be truthful so long as you do not offend them; however they can offend you as they have earned the right.
Most are suspicious of technology but some have embraced it wholeheartedly.
Famous doomers include Rupert Murdoch and Alex Ferguson.
Born in 1946–1964
Baby Boomers are individualistic and idealistic. This is the generation that believed they could change the world and...they did.
Boomers value their work. They want meaningful work and embrace socially and environmentally conscious companies.
When Boomers started having families, unemployment was on the rise. With mounting responsibilities and fewer job options, they became more individualistic and less idealistic and became motivated by money, perks and prestige.
Today, they are well-established in their careers and hold positions of authority. They relish long work weeks and define themselves by their accomplishments.
Baby Boomers are loyal to the companies they work for. As they approach retirement and feel financially stable, many re-embrace the early values of their work life.
Possession of material items demonstrates success and prestige.
Famous baby boomers include Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.
Born in 1965–1977
Gen X-ers grew up with corporate downsizing, massive layoffs and government scandals. With both their parents often dedicating their lives to work, Gen X children were often left to accomplish tasks alone or with their siblings.
Therefore, they have become independent, self-reliant individuals. They are much more comfortable with technology, diversity and global awareness than any previous generation.
The first generation to grow up with CDs, remote controls and computers, Gen X-ers prefer to be entrepreneurs.
Gen X workers are ambitious and eager to learn new skills. They look for technology-based instructions, which include multimedia and interactive, computer- based training.
They value the freedom to set their own hours. A hands-off attitude often works best.
Coach, don’t lecture them. Gen X staff often prefer to work alone rather than in teams. They are often cynical and value authenticity.
Gen X-ers thrive on diversity, challenge, responsibility and creative input. They need frequent, rapid, specific feedback.
Gen X examples include Will Smith and Eunice Olsen.
Generation Y (Millennials)
Born in 1978–1987
Gen Y is reputably the toughest generation to manage. They grew up in culturally diverse environments, are tech-savvy, enthusiastic, self-centred, confident, well networked and achievement-oriented.
Gen Y is one of the best-educated generations in history. Gen Y children were raised in two-income families with their parents often away from home.
Despite this, Gen Y people tend to have stronger relationships with their parents. Gen Y have been told by their parents that they can do anything. Gen Y do not expect to “pay their dues”. They expect their opinions to be heard and considered.
They are motivated more by accomplishment rather than money.
Gen Y employees want to express their creativity and be able to complete tasks on their own — using their own methods.
They are quick to go online and search the Internet as well as ask their own network of friends or associates for information and stimulation. They want to know they have access to an open door to ask questions, and this usually means they will ask many questions.
They are not concerned about job-hopping. They will quit now and find that job later — and if that doesn’t work out, they will count on their parents for support.
Gen Y examples include Adam Levine and Justin Bieber.
Article by Leslie Choudhury, CEO of Leslie Choudhury International. He has been voted as the world’s sixth Communication Guru by Gurus International. For more information, please visit www.lesliechoudhury.com.