In order for a company to be successful they need to have strong leadership that can set clear direction and communicate across all levels of the organization. As we move into the future, the top down ‘style’ of management must embrace the inquisitive nature of the Gen Ys.
The Boomer generation (1946-1964) is experienced and have led organizations through year on year growth, managing companies through one of the toughest economic downturns. CEO’s spend an average of 12.8 years at a company before being appointed and the median age of an S&P Fortune 500 CEO is 55. For these leaders, knowledge has come through experience and tenure.
Gen X (1965-1981) is being squeezed between the Boomers and Ys; however, they are next in line to take the helm. They were the first generation to grow up with computers, and technology has played a key role in their success. Significant investment has also been made in learning and development programs for this generation. The ASTD reported that U.S. organizations spent more than $156 billion last year on learning and development programs. Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), 360 feedback, and talent management programs have become a second language for this generation. The greatest ROI from this generation could simply be ‘bridging the gap’ between the Boomers and the Gen Ys.
Generation Y or Millennials (1982-1995) is known for always asking a key question, Why? The characteristics of this generation are sometimes described as the entitlement generation or trophy kids; however, these techy young adults should not be underestimated for the ability to get the job done. They are open to feedback and have inherent ability to find the answer to any question by using their fingertips. One of America’s best selling authors and executive coach for the top CEO;’s Marshall Goldsmith includes an entire chapter on how leaders can change for the better is based on the ability to be open to feedback. This characteristic comes naturally with the Ys.
As these three generations converge in the workplace success will be defined based on not only their ability to communicate and transfer knowledge from one generation to the next, but also on your ability as an organization to keep all three of them engaged (and happy) in their work. Each generation has traits that can be passed on or utilized by the next to create a cohesive work environment.
It’s important to embrace each generation’s differences. The combination of all three generations can be a great asset to your company. Likewise, as your Boomers head for retirement (at a rate of 10,000 per day in this country!) and Gen X moves up the ranks, a plan must also be in place for training future leaders–Gen Y.
Utilize and support each generation to their full capacity, focusing on the core strengths they bring to your organization. In turn, you’ll build a sustainable workforce and a culture that embraces differences and cross-generational work ethics.
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