Bridging the Generational Gap: Age Diversity
Older generations leave a voicemail for younger people that they never hear, they send a text to older generations that they never see.
How many times have you heard this conversation? It is not unique, it has been happening not only at family gatherings but most frequently in the workplace, and this is an issue these days.
The generational gap is widening in the workplace and causing many conflicts
This is the first time in American history that four (soon to be five) different generations are mingling and intertwining in all aspects of our daily lives. They work side-by-side, bringing their own values, goals and communication approaches to the workplace; which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how the workplace is handling it.
The older generation is still contributing and working due to few reasons:
Medical breakthroughs allowing a healthier and longer life.
Today’s financial turn-moils, where most Americans have lost a considerable percentage of their savings, retirements and 401K.
Un-affordable high costs of health care.
But before we go any further; let us discuss who are the five generations, their characteristics, their values and beliefs and most importantly what makes them tick.
Here are the different generations in our society, community and workplace:
The Matures/ Conservationists/ Veterans/ Traditionalists: Born between 1927 and 1945.
The Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964.
The Generation X/ GEN X/ Squeezed generation : Born between 1965 and 1975.
The Generation Y/ GEN Y/ or Millennials: Born between 1976 and early 80’s.
The Generation Z: Are born from mid 1980's till now
I remember reading this quote in an article written about generations, I really thought it summarized the perceived differences between the generations: “When asked to recall how and where Kennedy died, the Veterans and Baby Boomers would say gunshots in Dallas, Texas; Generation X remembers a plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.; and Generation Y might say, “Kennedy who?”
To really understand what makes each generation characteristics, we need to dig deeper in the conditions and surrounding that influenced the world in which they grew up. Childhood experiences helped shape each generation’s future, and often held tightly to age-based values, thoughts, passions, and ideals
I will start by the world of the Matures. Who are also called Veterans or Traditionalists:
It is a generation that was born or grew up during the radio era (Radio babies), the great depression, World war 2, Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor; which all took a toll on their lives. They love their privacy, and have a problem sharing their inner thoughts. They loved to dress up formally copying Carry Grant and the other actors of that era since the silver screen was created during their era
They are the smallest generation in numbers , the wealthiest and most likely to vote.
Famous examples of the Mature generations: Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John Mc Cain, Martin Luther King, JR, Billy Graham, John Glenn, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.
Their music tastes varied between Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. They listened to the Radio, records; Juke boxes and read the Readers Digest.
Workplace: Many of the Matures joined the workforce either after the depression or after coming back from the war. They worked in companies that took care of its employees, so they were loyal and spent all their lives working for one single employer. Great work ethics and discipline at work. They worked by the book.
Family: The man worked and the woman generally stayed home raising the kids. Family was kept separate from work. Traditional families. Families will gather for dinner around the dinner table listening to the Radio creating great family ties
Leadership: Accepted Mc Gregor’s management style of Theory X (Up to down management style, autocratic), Command and control; as a norm. They rarely challenged authorities.
Culture Ethos: Security, surviving, saving money, defending freedoms, high sense of duty to family, workplace and the country. Education was a dream.
Communications: Formal, honoring the chain of command, through the proper channels as memos. They come mostly from a military background (draft) where leadership is not challenged and hierarchy takes precedent
Recognition and motivation: Personal acknowledgement and compensation for work well done is very important to them as well as showing respect and valuing their experiences and dedication.
Technology: If it is not broken, don’t fix it
As a customer: Have great faith in American products and brands (GM. P&G, Coke etc…) and the Government. As loyal customers, they expected durability and quality of the products. Pricing was important to them as they believed in saving and being thrifty.
Because they lived through the depression where money was scarce they were frugal with it and knew how to save it for the future
Disclaimer: As in the case of any diversity groups, not everyone in the group is the same there are individual differences - the goal is not stereotyping rather generalization of each group
Let our differences make a difference in the World
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Sahar Andrade, MB.BChDiversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC
I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.
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