Managing Across Generations

Tamara Erickson is speaking at the World Business Forum 2011 and has this thought provoking management topic.

The CEO blog summarizes her contribution as follows:

The 11-15 year old time period tends to influence the lifetime. We are influenced by the news, our parents, our national context, our religion etc. Because we share the same national/news context then people of the same age share a lot of commonality.

EG – people born from 1928-1945 saw the birthing of suburbs, increased availability of consumer goods, new technology. Exciting times (except for the start of the cold war) Their common characteristics is they are joiners, loyal to institutions and respect hierarchy and rules. They respect positional authority.

Next – the boomers. 1946-1960. They saw Vietnam, civil rights, womans lib, assassinations of Kennedy and King, protests. Watergate and Nixons’ resignation. They want to make a difference, they do not want to join. They worry that they will lose their spot if they slow down. Hard working/driven – staying on top of their game. Idealistic.

Gen X – 1961-1979 Troubled economy, layoffs, rising divorce rates, CNN and electronic games. The first Gulf war. Challenger blew up – a symbol of an institution that let people down. Less loyalty by companies – you are fired, not just laid off to be the first called back. Many women entering the workforce so latch key kids. Their conclusion was “look after yourself”. They like to feel that they have options “I am doing this today but…”. Parenting has everything to do with helping “my child”.

Gen Y – 1980-1995. Terrorism, Columbine. They see the world as unpredictable. This has not scared them – they want to live in the now. Shaped by digital technology – unconsciously competent. More spiritual. Family centric – they love their parents. They trust authority.

Understanding generational difference can help to understand other peoples’ view.