Generations And Teams

As if life wasn’t already complicated, now we have three generations vying for the best jobs. Baby Boomers are not leaving the workplace as quickly as hoped; Generation X feels like they “don’t get no respect; and the Millennials expect to make top wages within two weeks. All of this is happening in companies across the US. I work with all three of these generations, and find it very exciting. However, like the Economist stated, managing this can be very difficult.

Although “generation gaps are as old as history,” the current situation maybe different due this environment being one of “least welcoming labor markets in modern history.” Businesses are worried about how to handle multiple generations working together; the Boomers are hard working and productive. Gen Xers are viewed as the best team players, but due to the Boomers not leaving the workplace, have not been able to battle their way to the executive offices. “Generation Y, or the Millennials, are less surprising, good at tech stuff but truculent and a bit work-shy.”

Each of these generations has expectations and dreams, some not realized and some waiting to happen, but each heading on a collision course in our businesses. Thus how we manage these competing demands will be critical over the next five years. Although the Economist argues that there is a growing trend of older workers reporting to younger managers, I don’t think this is a new phenomenon. I think this has been fairly common for the last twenty-years.

The generational difference between the Boomers and the Millennials is unmistakable. A Boomer does not use a smartphone in a business meeting to text, while “a millennial may use her cell phone in a meeting, but is multitasking, rather than being disengaged or rude.”

Maybe these differences aren’t all that important and maybe they are. But the differences are real and due the importance of globalization we need to work this out as soon as possible. Teams need to be able to function well, which mean complimentary skills. I think the Boomers, Gen Xer’s, and Millennials can work together and even thrive.

And that is my thought for the day!


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