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Dealing with Generations X and Y: Leading the Next Generation of Public Works

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As more Millenials (Generation Y) enter the workplace, and the Xers are taking on more leadership roles, more experienced generations are finding it harder and harder to relate to their employees, …

As more Millenials (Generation Y) enter the workplace, and the Xers are taking on more leadership roles, more experienced generations are finding it harder and harder to relate to their employees, subordinates, and those being mentored to take their place.  This presentation will be a view from two individuals in Generations X and Y and their needs, wants, and expectations as new young professionals in the Public Works Profession.  It is intended for the attendee to provide direct information on how to better manage and work with employees in these generations, and to make them effective members of your team.

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  • Introduction of Presenters - Charles R. “Chas” Jordan Representing Generation Y Brad Johnson Representing Generation X Goal of the Presentation - As more Millenials (Generation Y) enter the workplace, and the Xers are taking on more leadership roles, more experienced generations are finding it harder and harder to relate to their employees, subordinates, and those being mentored to take their place.  This presentation will be a view from two individuals in Generations X and Y and their needs, wants, and expectations as new young professionals in the Public Works Profession.  It is intended for the attendee to provide direct information on how to better manage and work with employees in these generations, and to make them effective members of your team.
  • This is a unique time in history. We are working in an environment where not two, and not three generations are working side by side in the workplace, but FOUR. All of these age groups have unique aspects that represent the global personality, culture, and philosophy of those individuals. Gauge generations represented. How many Silent Generation attendees (Born 1920-1940)? How many Baby Boomers (1940-1960)? How many Generation X-ers (1960-1980)? How many Millenials (1980-????)? Out of the audience, how many Silent and Baby Boomer generation attendees feel it is difficult to understand or work with Generation X or Y co-workers? How many feel it is difficult to get them to be effective in their jobs? How many feel is it difficult to get them involved in APWA?
  • We are here representing the two newest generations to enter the workforce: Generation X and Generation Y (or the Millenials). The needs of our generations and our peers are special, and somewhat hard for Silent Generation individuals or Baby Boomers to understand. Why is this important? Nationally, APWA is seeing a real desire from Baby Boomers to be educated on how not only to manage members of these generational groups, but how to get them involved in APWA as well. To do that, members of the national Diversity Committee, and it's subcommittee on Bridging the Generations, have been putting forth educational seminars on the subject to answer questions and to discuss some of the issues that all generations are having. Generational Diversity training is currently one of the most sought after subjects by big business and major corporations in hopes of learning ways to become more effective and efficient in their workplace.
  • Generation X is the generation to closely follow or grow up after the effects the Vietnam War had upon the country. This leads to the generation by and large to be very skeptical of authority, government, and the media. They have not lived in a time where it was seen to be an “honor” to be a public servant but have lived through almost 40 years of scandal, war, and economic crisis. They are more likely to be liberal, free-thinkers, and look to being balanced in both their personal and professional lives. This means that employees in this generation will want their vacation time and they will use it. You will see them making sure they have time to participate in family events or activities with their children. In the workplace, they want you to give them succinct and specific direction and then “let them go” and do it the way they want to, or know how to, do it. This is particularly difficult for Silent and Baby Boomer generations because of the “My Way or the Highway” work ethic.
  • The Millennials, or Trophy Kids, or Generation Y, or the Boomerang Generation, or even still...the Echo Boomers, are the newest and largest generation to face the current workforce. These are the predominant children of the Baby Boomer generation, are almost equal in numbers and will greatly outnumber Generation X in the workforce within 10-15 years. Millennials are also known as the E-Generation or the Tech-Generation because they have grown up with the ability to email, text, tweet, use voice mail, listen or watch digital media, and use these as legitimate tools in their workplace. Like Generation X, they are very “Work to Live” oriented and demand personal time for their family and leisure, but more so leisure. Millennials tend to have “big” vacation getaways and very much work hard to get the opportunity to play hard. They have grown up with constant support and appreciation (Trophy Kids) from their parents and taught they can do anything they want. This leads to need for CONSTANT positive feedback, and a real belief that they should find a job that legitimately makes them happy and will quit one that does not. Finally, Millennials want to provide service back to their fellow man and their community, and expect their workplace to do the same. United Way drives, Relay For Life, Habitat for Humanity are all programs that these workers feel enrich their work experience.
  • Unlike Generation X, Generation Y mirrors or “Echos” the Baby Boomer generation and will more than likely predominate the workforce as the Baby Boomers retire. This means that Baby Boomers need to continue to fulfill their role as mentors (or parents) of this generation and mentor them to keep our businesses and communities going in the next 5-10 years. This also means that with this generation knowing the Baby Boomers are preparing to leave the workforce, there is a strong sense of entitlement to good jobs, strong careers, and quick elevation.
  • The purpose of this presentation is to help you learn ways to make your workforce more effective by “Bridging” the gap between these cultural differences in the generations. This requires understanding of the differences and using them to your advantage.
  • To make this easy we decided to put our recommendations into three specific things to remember. The first thing you need to remember is: WE ALL WANT TO SUCCEED. Forget the notion that either Generation X or Generation Y is apathetic or does not care, or does not work hard. Let X and Y use the tools at their disposal to succeed on their own as well. Sometimes your way is NOT the only way, and usually is NOT the most efficient way. The second thing you need to remember is: WE WANT TO LEARN. Silent Generation and Baby Boomers are our greatest resource to learn how to better our careers and to be effective in our jobs. The best way to make younger generations a productive part of your workforce is to nurture their development. Mentorship is essential. The third thing you need to remember is: WE WANT OUR CAREER TO BENEFIT AND ENRICH OUR LIVES, NOT BE OUR LIVES. Gone are the days where incoming workers can be ground to a pulp in work because they are the new guys and need to earn their spikes. If you believe this needs to be done, you are going to lose a lot of great new workers in your workplace. Younger generations have been taught by you the older generations that they can do anything, and that they should find a job they love. If they do not love it, they will not stay, and they will bounce from place to place until they do.
  • Ideas for you to use in working together effectively in your workplace: 1. Mentorship is the most important benefit you can provide a Generation X or Y employee. Mentoring them in business etiquette, in technical and professional skills, and most importantly: in communication and leadership. 2. Generations X and Y are looking for quality travel, training, and professional development opportunities to enrich their work experience. They want to become the best they can be at their current jobs, and also want to make themselves the best professional they can. 3. Generations X and Y are not looking to be bossed, and will easily break and leave if they feel they are not treated well. What they look for is the same treatment their parents and teachers gave them: feedback that shows when they are doing something well, but also ways to improve. 4. This is a leadership opportunity you could give to a Generation X or Y individual. Let them know that the staff wants to provide service back to the community and see how they run with it. You may be surprised at the success and the drive they show. 5. Give these employees freedom to succeed. Give them clear direction and an intended outcome for what YOU need, then let them do it the way THEY want to. I know this is difficult to agree to, but letting these employees be innovative is beneficial to both you and the employee.
  • Ideas for you to use in working together effectively in APWA: 1. We come back to Mentorship. Younger members are unsure of their place in the organization and therefore need experienced members to guide them through the programs, politics, and organizational units that are APWA. 2. We need to train new Mentors. The best way to involve young members is to train our Public Works Directors, Assistant Directors, Managers, Engineers, etc. to seek out and involve new talent. Young members will get involved if an older member suggests it, or even goes so far as guides them through the process. 3. APWA MUST provide membership benefit to these members. The main way to do that is through Professional Development opportunities and Training. Younger professionals are not going to join this organization for Networking opportunities alone, and their communities aren't going to pay for it. 4. Communication to them in modes that they are used to and use frequently will guarantee they are knowledgeable of the current events of the organization. 5. Provide clear understanding of ways to succeed and advance in leadership in the organization so it is understood from day one. Also, breakdown rigid expectations and “good ole boy” mentalities, because nothing will turn them away faster.
  • Ideas for you to use in working together effectively in APWA: 1. We come back to Mentorship. Younger members are unsure of their place in the organization and therefore need experienced members to guide them through the programs, politics, and organizational units that are APWA. 2. We need to train new Mentors. The best way to involve young members is to train our Public Works Directors, Assistant Directors, Managers, Engineers, etc. to seek out and involve new talent. Young members will get involved if an older member suggests it, or even goes so far as guides them through the process. 3. APWA MUST provide membership benefit to these members. The main way to do that is through Professional Development opportunities and Training. Younger professionals are not going to join this organization for Networking opportunities alone, and their communities aren't going to pay for it. 4. Communication to them in modes that they are used to and use frequently will guarantee they are knowledgeable of the current events of the organization. 5. Provide clear understanding of ways to succeed and advance in leadership in the organization so it is understood from day one. Also, breakdown rigid expectations and “good ole boy” mentalities, because nothing will turn them away faster.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Dealing with Generations X and Y: Leading the Next Generation of Public Works Monday, April 18, 2011 Chas Jordan City of Largo Brad Johnson City of Palm Bay
    • 2.
      • How many....
        • Silent Generation?
        • Baby Boomers?
        • Gen X-ers?
        • Millenials?
    • 3. Generation X – Brad (1961 - 1980) Generation Y – Chas (1981 - 2000)
    • 4. Source: http://www.creatingresults.com/knowledge/
      • Generation “X”
      • Born 1961-1980
      • Comprises 40% of the workforce
        • The self-reliant generation
        • Challenges themselves and others
        • Communication style is direct and immediate (needs answers today)
        • Motivated by being able to do it their way
        • At the same time wants structure and direction
        • Skeptical
        • Seeks balance between work and family
    • 5. Source: http://libguides.reynolds.edu/millennials
      • Generation “Y” (Millennials)
      • Born 1981-2000
      • Comprises 10% of the workforce
        • Have always multi-tasked
        • Participative/collaborative work style (in your face)
        • E-mail, voicemail, internet
        • Not afraid to embrace the idea of being with and sharing with other bright, creative individuals like themselves
        • Social Media
        • Goal oriented
        • Service-driven
        • Demand personal time for family/leisure
    • 6. Source: http://www.justgrapeswine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Millennials.jp THERE ARE CURRENTLY 80 MILLION MILLENIALS IN THE UNITED STATES AND GROWING
    • 7. Working Together
      • Well, now we know about Generations X and Y... but how do we get them to work together with us???
    • 8. Things to Remember...
      • 1. WE ALL WANT TO SUCCEED
      2. WE ALL WANT TO LEARN 3. WE WANT OUR CAREER TO BENEFIT AND ENRICH OUR LIVES, NOT BE OUR LIVES .
    • 9. Ideas for Your Workplace
      • 1. Mentorship
      • 2. Commitment to Professional Development, Travel, and Training.
      • 3. Quality Constructive Criticism and Commendation
      • 4. Community Outreach Programs
      • 5. Freedom to Succeed
    • 10. Ideas for APWA
      • 1. Mentorship
      • 2. Developing Mentors
      • 3. Provide Quality Professional Development and Membership Services
      • 4. Communication through New Media
      • 5. Leadership Ladders and Planning
    • 11. QUESTIONS??