Generations differ in their motivations and outlooks
When it comes to the different generations within your organisation, millennials usually get all the press. But the real “So what?” is that each new generation has been influenced as it grew up by quite different social, economic and technological landscapes that shaped its values, outlook and motivations. Your organisation is populated by people who all think and feel very differently from each other about issues that are crucial to your strategic objectives.
At the risk of stereotyping, your older personnel – baby boomers – are more likely to value hours put into the job, putting their career above everything else and how much they input. By contrast the younger millennials care more about the quality of their contribution (rather than the quantity), being treated “right”, gaining fulfilment and validation, they are generally more ambitious and entrepreneurial and are less loyal to any one employer.
And don’t just think it’s about learning the difference between one generation and another. It is easy to fail to appreciate the huge diversity within a generation like millennials. It is the most diverse generation seen in a century, say some sociologists.
It is vital for strategic leaders to gain the understanding and ability to harness each different generation’s strengths. And the timetable to achieve this is shrinking fast! The post-millennials (some call them Generation Z) are already reaching adulthood and entering the workforce right now. Some believe this new generation to be more anxious and depressed than previous ones having grown up glued to social media on their smartphones. How are you going to handle them?
The traditional labels for, definitions of, and distinctions between different generations are also changing as cohorts are responding to rapidly changing technologies, education and career options. The challenge for organisations of understanding how millennials differ from baby boomers and generation X, is already being superseded by that of understanding and harnessing the strengths of every different individual, within the work force and leadership alike.