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Navigating Generational Differences in the Professional Environment


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With five generations meeting in the workplace for the first time in history, we are challenged daily to understand the attitudes, values, and demands of our coworkers, customers, and the public in general. Understanding the similarities and differences between the generations, including distinct preferences for how to communicate effectively, is key to successful relationships.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Navigating Generational Differences in the Professional Environment

  1. 1. Navigating Generational Differences in the Professional Environment Presented by: Matthew Hansen, Cynthia Voth and Meghan Granito Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP
  2. 2. Golden Rules
  3. 3. Golden Rules Do unto others…
  4. 4. Golden Rules Know your audience
  5. 5. The New Golden (or “Platinum”) Rule Treat others as they want to be treated
  6. 6. Multiple Generations at Work  Traditionalists  Boomers  Gen X  Gen Y/Millennials  Coming Soon: Gen Z
  7. 7. Meet Bill
  8. 8. Traditionalists  Born before 1946  Population: 55 million  Currently 70+ years  “Silent” generation  Majority are retired  Largest voting population
  9. 9. Meet Susan
  10. 10. Baby Boomers  Born 1946 - 1964  Population: 76 million  Currently 52 to 69 years old  Largest generation in the workplace  Coined the term “workaholic”  Single largest economic group
  11. 11. Meet Matt
  12. 12. Gen X  Born 1964 - 1980  Population: 50 million  Currently 35 to 51 years old  “Carpe diem” attitude  High divorce rate  Single-parent families
  13. 13. Meet…well, the millennials.
  14. 14. Gen Y/Millennials  Born: 1980 – 1997  Population: 80 million  Currently 18 to 35 years old  “Entitlement” generation  Technology-savvy  More ethnically and racially diverse than older generations
  15. 15. Meet Aidan
  16. 16. Gen Z  Born after 1997  Population: 23 million…and growing  “Digital Natives”  Born during major fertility boom in the US
  17. 17. Generations in the Workplace - 1995 Silent 2% Traditionalists 18% Boomers 49% Gen X, 31% Silent Traditionalists Boomers Gen X
  18. 18. Generations in the Workplace - 2015 Traditionalists 2% Boomers 29% Gen X 34% Millennials 34% Traditionalists Boomers Gen X Millennials
  19. 19. Generations in the Workplace - 2025 Boomers 8% Gen X 28% Millennials 33% Gen Z 31% Boomers Gen X Millennials Gen Z
  20. 20. Generations in the Workplace 1995 2015 2025 Silent 2% Traditionalists 18% Boomers 49% Gen X, 31% Traditionalists 2% Boomers 29% Gen X 34% Millennials 34% Boomers 8% Gen X 28% Millennials 33% Gen Z 31%
  21. 21. What Frames a Generation?  Please share two to three things you remember from your youth that had an influence on your generation?
  22. 22. Where Do Generational Personalities Come From?  Peer Influences  Parenting  Politics  Culture  Media  Education/Teachers  World events  Religious figures  War & Peace  Family  Technology  Values
  23. 23. A Snapshot of Differences Traditionalists Boomers Gen X Millennials Education is… A dream A birthright A way to get there An incredible expense Work Ethic Dedicated, pay your dues Driven, workaholic Balance, work smarter with greater output Ambitious, done at 5:00, entrepreneurial Technology Adapted Acquired Assimilated Integral Preferred Work Environment Conservative, hierarchal, top- down management “Flat” hierarchy, democratic, warm and friendly Functional, positive, efficient, fast- paced and flexible Collaborative, creative, diverse, continuous feedback Interactive Style One-on-one Team player – lots of meetings Entrepreneur, cut to the chase Collaborative , lots of feedback
  24. 24. A Snapshot of Differences Traditionalists Boomers Gen X Millennials Work Assets Experience, dependable, hardworking, thorough Team players, see the big picture, will go the extra mile, hard work Adapts well to change, direct communicators , good task managers, tech savvy, want feedback Collaborators, goal-oriented, highly educated, fast multitaskers, optimistic, tech savvy Work Challenges Don’t adapt well to change, hierarchical, avoid conflict, not good with ambiguity or grey areas Dislike conflict and change, expect everyone to be a workaholic Skeptical, dislike for authority, don’t like rigid work environments, impatient Distaste for menial work, need structure, lack experience,
  25. 25. A Snapshot of Differences Traditionalists Boomers Gen X Millennials Means of Communication Rotary phones One-on-one Write a memo Touch-tone phones Call me anytime Cell phones Call me only at work Email Email Smart phones, but… Text or IM me Communication Discrete Diplomatic Blunt/Direct Polite Messages that Motivate Your experience is respected You are valued and needed Do it your way and forget the rules You will work with bright and creative people Work-Family Balance Never the two shall meet, but now interested in creating balance in lives A history of living to work, but now interested in flexibility Balance is important, Work to live, not live to work Balance is important, Lifestyle is more important than upward mobility
  26. 26. Examples in the ROW Profession  In your small groups, share one example of a generational challenge or success you’ve encountered in the ROW field
  27. 27. Win the Generation Game
  28. 28. Win the Generation Game  Generational differences, while sometimes challenging, are extremely valuable in the workplace • Tailor your message to be heard most effectively • Increase productivity with diverse skill sets • Technology • Tradition • Mentoring  For real success in the multigenerational workplace, understanding, flexibility and openness from every age group is critical
  29. 29. Thank You Matthew Hansen | 206.777.7502 Cynthia Voth | 206.777.7558 Meghan Granito | 206.777.7412
  30. 30. Sources  Forbes • Working with Five Generations in the Workplace  Harvard Business Review • Managing People from 5 Generations  Wall Street Journal • How to Manage Different Generations  West Midland Family Center • Generational Differences Chart
  31. 31. Sources  Montana Office of Public Information • Understanding Generational Differences  American Management Association • Leading Four Generations at Work  Beacon Health Options