Leading the Multigenerational Workforce, Part 1

by Granville Triumph

By the year 2025, Millennials, also known as Generation Y, will represent three-quarters of the global workforce, according to a Deloitte study. This generation views life and work differently than the older generations Millennials will eventually replace in the workforce. The ongoing shift in employee priorities is causing many organizations to adapt their policies and reassess their corporate culture.

In 2015, you have a multigenerational workforce that is largely dominated by Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Many Traditionalists, also known as the Silent Generation born during or before World War II, are also still working. Of course, young Generation Z will be making its mark in the near future. At no time in history have so many generations been prominently represented in the same workforce. Effectively leading and managing this multigenerational workforce begins with understanding the different perspectives and preferences of each generation.

The Traditionalists/Silent Generation. Born between the mid-1920s and early 1940s, this generation typically grew up with a strong immediate and extended family. They listened to the radio for information and entertainment. They were raised with discipline and a strong work ethic, and built the foundation for today’s business infrastructure. They tend to dress and speak conservatively and value stability, loyalty and the common good.

Baby Boomers. Born during a 20-year period after World War II, this largest-ever generation continues to hold most senior leadership positions in corporate America. They are strong communicators, explaining how and why instead of simply giving orders. They are optimistic and recognize the value of being part of a team. They were the first generation to grow up with television and are becoming more and more tech-savvy.

Generation X. This generation, born from the mid-1960s through 1980, was the first to have access to personal computers as children. Because many of them had mothers who worked or parents who were divorced, Generation Xers learned to be self-reliant and cautious. They also learned how to succeed during turbulent times. Members of this generation are in their prime and are on the verge of assuming greater power and control in the business world. They look for ways to improve and streamline processes to achieve results.

Millennials/Generation Y. Born between 1980 and 2000, this generation has been extremely influential in changing both pop culture and corporate culture. They grew up with the Internet and were the first generation to develop a global view of the world. They feel comfortable discussing sensitive social issues and living in a multicultural environment. A very goal-oriented generation, Millennials also believe in strong values, community service and flexibility, and they expect their employers to share those beliefs.

In Part 2 of this post, we’ll discuss the challenges of leading a multigenerational workforce and offer strategies for managing and motivating such a diverse group of employees.

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