Generations collide, collaborate at work
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
This year, Millennials will overtake
Baby Boomers as the largest living generation and will represent the majority
of the workforce, leading to an even greater disparity of values, attitudes, aspirations
and communication styles in today's multigenerational workplace — and calling for new management styles and strategies.
Dubbed "the trophy
generation" because of their reputation for having been constantly
rewarded as children, Millennials are often misunderstood by more
tradition-oriented Boomers, according to Sarah Sladek, founder of management
consulting firm XYZ University, who led "Generations at Work: From Boom to
Z," the first of six webinars in the NEW Multigenerational Leadership Series,
Baby Boomers "want to do
everything face to face," Sladek said, while Millennials'
post-Industrial-era mindset says, "I can work wherever I want. Not being
face to face doesn't mean I'm not working."
Millennials use technology and communicate differently than their older peers,
Sladek told 100 NEW members who participated in the live webinar. "Generation
X wants you to make it short. Generation Y wants details, instructions,
feedback — and they love it."
Each generation has its own attitudes
toward work and life, Sladak said:
Boomers are motivated by salary
X wants work-life balance
Y seeks happiness
As for what they want in a
Boomers respond most highly to someone experienced and reliable
X values a leader who is honest and motivational
Y wants a leader to be honest and innovative
The up-and-coming Generation Z (those born 1995 and onward) is approaching the
workforce with even higher expectations to align their personal experiences and
values with the workplace. "They're like Generation Y on steroids,'"
Sladek said. "They've been raised only on technology and expect companies
to be diverse and inclusive."
Sladek recommends reverse
mentoring — with younger generations helping older generations
learn new skills — to build stronger multigenerational relationships.
"Meet monthly, switch roles, switch again," Sladek advised. "Have
the idea of being 'lunch buddies.'"
Sladek encouraged participants
to ask themselves: "Which areas in our company do we need to change or
improve to successfully engage employees of all ages?"