First appeared on Technorati: http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/bridging-the-generational-gap-the-matures/
Last week-end, we were invited to a 55th wedding anniversary dinner. The dialog that took place around the dinner table was amazing. The grandmother was angry at the grand daughter after leaving a voice mail that was never returned. The response from the Grand daughter was rolling her eyes, saying: Grand-Ma; voice mails are so yesterday, I never listen to my messages you should have Facebooked me.
The Grand-Mother response was: You kids are so spoiled, and have it so much easier.
This kind of conversation is not unique, it has been happening at family gatherings and frequently in the workplace.
This is the first time in American history that four 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.
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.
- Unaffordable high costs of health care.
But before we go any further; let us discuss who are the four 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/ Veterans/ Traditionalists: Born between 1927 and 1945; and are 65 to 83 years old.
- The Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964; and are 46 to 64 years old.
- The Generation X/ GEN X: Born between 1965 and 1975; and are 35 to 45 years old.
- The Generation Y/ GEN Y/ or Millennials: Born between 1976 and early 80’s; and are 28 to 34 years old.
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 are the smallest generation in numbers (55 M), 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. Bill Cosby
• 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 work force 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.
• 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.
• 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.
I will be discussing the other generations in the following posts.
Diversity starts at home.
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC.