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How to work with different generations

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We’re In A Boat Together is Camille Bishop’s a fictionalized account about four individuals who work together in a company that is experiencing a change in leadership. What’s interesting is Bishop’s analysis concerning the different generations in the workplace.* There are four generations in th…
By Seth Barnes

generationsWe’re In A Boat Together is Camille Bishop’s a fictionalized account about four individuals who work together in a company that is experiencing a change in leadership. What’s interesting is Bishop’s analysis concerning the different generations in the workplace.*

There are four generations in the workplace today, the Silent, Boomer, Gen Xer, and Millennial generations.  The story follows four individuals from four generations who embark on a leadership building rafting trip, and illustrates how each group sees and interacts with the world. 

The generations represented in the work force are:

•    The Silent Generation (1925 – 1942) grew up between two World Wars and are distinguished by morality, duty, self-denial, hard work, and integrity. Their work is their life and they are as loyal to their organization as they are to their families. 
•    Baby Boomers (1943-1960) – grew up in a period of unparalleled American achievement and progress but are actually broken into two categories.  Early Boomers are high achievers who seize opportunity and expect the best rewards as a result.  Late Boomers, affected the breakdown of the social status quo in the sixties, are strong, responsible and individualistic.
•    Gen Xers (1961-1981) – grew up in the midst of technological advancements.  The  high freedom they were given from social changes like two career parents and broken homes resulted in loneliness and desire for community.  This affected their relationship with leadership as they desire collaboration in the workplace and give respect to leadership only when earned.
•    Millennials (1982-2002) – grew up with computers and internet as commonalities.  They were sheltered by protective parents and now come to see the world as dangerous and unpredictable. They rely on technology to give them an edge on it.  They demand instant gratification and high results from little work.

There are different best practices she recommends for working with individuals in each generation:

Best practices for the Silent Generation:
•    Their leadership style was shaped by military service.  Therefore, respect for authority is their highest priority. 
•    If they are leaders, be cautious and gentle in questioning their decisions. 
•    Demand clear vision on the future and decisiveness.
•    They respect integrity, faithfulness, self-control and foresight.

Best practices for the Boomers:
•    Late Boomers want to be included in decisions and be free to disagree.
•    Late Boomers want relationship oriented leaders.
•    Be transparent, caring, empowering, genuine, and hands off.
•    Respect credibility.

Best practices for the Gen Xers:
•    Be willing to collaborate.
•    Foster a organizational community.
•    They want leaders who care about them personally and are willing to compromise for their sake. 
•    May be uncomfortable about taking up leadership.  Give them responsibility gradually and expect opposition to long term commitment.
•    Respect caring concern, encouragement, love, humility, servanthood, teachability, and integrity.

Best practices for the Millennials:
•    As with Gen Xers, they want leaders who care about them personally and are willing to compromise for their sake. 
•    Give continuous feedback.

•    Respect dedication and personal care.
 
*Thanks to Joe Bunting in helping write this blog.

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