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Boomers, Gen-X, and Gen-Y Working Together: Conflict or Opportunity


Managing Multiple Generations Joan Oliver - Managing Multiple Generations * Personal Experience Personal Experience A few years ago, our Section was re-organized and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Boomers, Gen-X, and Gen-Y Working Together: Conflict or Opportunity

Boomers, Gen-X, and Gen-Y Working Together
Conflict or Opportunity
  • Managing Multiple Generations

  • Picture it the elevator doors open and out
    walks John, 69, Bri-Ann, 20, Margaret, 47, Sam,
    55, and Derrek, 32, as they are about to start
    their day as analysts at ABCA.

  • Today, Im going to talk to you about the fact
    that for the first time at least three
    generations are working together actually it is
    more like 5 generations in the workplace at the
    same time!!

5 Generations Working Together
  • 1. Which generations are working together and
    why are they in the work place at the same time?
  • 2. What characteristics, values and attitudes do
    they bring to the work place and whats the
    impact on managers and the work place?
  • 3. Could you be dealing with a conflict as a
    result of generational differences?
  • 4. Knowing the source of the conflict leads to
  • 5. How have large organizations, even the
    military dealt with the situation?

  • There are currently five different generations
    working together in the work place.
  • Who are they?
  • Which Generations are working together?
  • Where do you fit?

  • Generations are based on birth year and the major
    and life-changing events of that period.
  • generation members are born, start school, enter
    the workforce, have children, and retire at about
    the same time and age. They are the same age
    when wars are waged, technological advances are
    made, and other social changes occur. Journal of
    Business Psychology
  • Their shared experiences at key developmental
    points contribute to the unique characteristics
    (e.g., values, attitudes, personality) that
    define and differentiate one generation from
    another. (Mannheim 1952 Ryder 1965).

5 Generations Working Together
  • Generational Snapshot

Veterans Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y Generation Z
Born 1930-1945   Radio Babies, Silent Generation, Traditionalists Born 1946-1964 Sandwich Generation Born 1965-1976 Baby Busters Born 1977-1991 Generation Why?, Echo Boomers, Nexus Generation, Net Generation, Millennials Born 1991 and Later New Millenials, Generation Next,
  • Why are these generations working together?
  • Demographics!

5 Generations Working Together
  • Older workers, such as Veterans and Boomers are
    staying longer in the work place for several
  • Elimination of mandatory retirement age leads
    Boomers to stay longer
  • the expertise and corporate knowledge of older
    workers are needed, so some retirees came back to
    fulfil this requirement
  • others simply stay because they enjoyed working
    at their jobs and
  • others stay for monetary reasons.

  • Canadian Population
  •  As of 2011, Canadas total population was
  • The breakdown of the Canadian population by
    generation is
  • Mature/WWII Generation 4,973,438
  • Baby Boomers 9,811,335
  • Generation X 7,035,208
  • Generation Y/Millennials 8,917,612

(No Transcript)
Demographics Graphic Representation
  • Labour Force 
  • In March 2012, there were 17,148,200 people in
    the Canadian Labour Force (ages 15 and older)
  • Total labour force participation by generation
  • Mature/WWII Generation 1,140,100
  • Baby Boomers 6,858,500
  • Generation X 5,609,700
  • Generation Y/Millennials 4,113,100

  • What does this mean?
  • For the first time in history five generations
    are in the workplace at the same time!!
  • Whats the impact on the workplace?

  • Generational differences!

The Psychology Foundation of Canada
Veterans Watched parents struggle to make ends meet during Great Depression of 1930s Very careful with money, conservative, have great respect for authority Fought in World War II or Korean War Grew up without television Very loyal to their employers Job security very important, switching jobs not easily embraced Baby Boomers Represent largest group in workforce Will inflict largest brain drain when they retire Often involved in both child care and elder care Fought in wars abroad such as the Vietnam War Used typewriters rather than computers Important changes such as The Pill, the civil rights movement and Trudeau-mania era Highly educated desiring of better lifestyle than their parents Generation X Witnessed many dramatic changes in economy and technology First generation to be entertained by video games like Atari Saw first Quebec Referendum in Canada High number of divorced parents, dual-income families and latch key kids Accustomed to recurring economic recessions familiar with oil shortages, terrorist attacks, soaring inflation Skeptical, independent and entrepreneurial Most well educated generation so far great candidates for leadership positions Generation Y Grew up with technology such as the Internet, computers, voice mail, video games More globally minded than previous generations Population three times bigger than Gen-Xer population Dual-income parents, divorces, daycare Very protective parents (often termed helicopter parents) Accepting of others differences in race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity Inquisitive, socially and environmentally conscious, concerned about the future, highly entrepreneurial Have lived through one of the biggest economic booms in North American history Often described as the generation with a sense of entitlement Generation Z Youngest group in the workforce now Extremely techno-savvy instant messaging preferred mode of communication (i.e., email is for old folks) Protective parents monitoring by adults is often seen as positive means of protection Confident, happy and secure Team players, like to engage in community service activities More activities available to them than previous generations, team activities often co-ed
Stereotypical Attitudes
  • Comments about them
  • Note These critical and stereotypical comments
    are examples of generational conflict
  • They have no work ethic,
  • He wants feedback, what the heck is that?
  • Its five, Im out of here!
  • The kid wants a promotion after six months on
    the job!
  • I have shoes older than you.
  • They dont even know what HTML is!

Generational Differences
  • Values and attitudes collide

Characteristics, Values, and Attitudes
  • How do characteristics, values, and attitudes
    develop in the first place?

  • Values
  • principles, standards, or qualities considered
    worthwhile or desirable.
  • the beliefs of a person or social group in which
    they have an emotional investment (either for or
    against something). Free Dictionary

  • Two kinds of values
  • First, those that involve end states such as
    world peace, happiness and friendship.
  • Second, those that deal with how people behave,
    e.g. honesty, kindness and sharing.

  • Where do our values come from?
  • Two Sources
  • Initially, our values come from parents,
    teachers, relatives and religious leaders.
  • Then, they are influenced by friends during the
    adolescent years when we start to question them,
    accepting some and rejecting others. Ultimately,
    we decide which ones to make a part of our lives.

  • Generational humourist Meagan Johnson (Clip)
    start clip (740 1040)

Characteristics, Values, and Attitudes
  • Major Events
  • Veterans the world Wars, in particular WWII,
  • Baby Boomers assassinations of JFK, Martin
    Luther King and Bobby Kennedy
  • Gen-Y Shuttle Blast (1986) Waco, Texas (1993),
    the Oklahoma City Bombing (1995), the Olympics
    Bombing in Atlanta (1996) Columbine Shootings
    (1999), the World Trade Center Attack and the
    Pentagon Attacks (Sept. 11, 2001), Hurricane
    Katrina (2005).

  • Major Events (in Canada)
  • Canadian tragedies
  • Montreals Ecole Polytechnique - 1989
  • Dawson College Shooting in Montreal 2006
  • Because we live in a world that is so connected
    due to technology, it really doesnt matter where
    events happen, in an instant they go global.

Review Workplace Characteristics
  • As you have seen major life experiences shape
    behaviours that can be seen in the workplace.
  • So, how do we deal with generational differences
    in the workplace?

  • Lets look at some workplace scenarios

Generational Conflict - Scenario 1
  • Marvin, a Veteran, recently returned to work.
    With the recent economic downturn, retirement
    didnt quite work out as planned, but he was able
    to get a job working for his previous employer.
    Senior management valued Marvins knowledge and
    work experience, but this time, he was reporting
    to Sophie a Gen Yer.
  • Sophie a Gen Yer, spent two days per week
    working virtually outside the office. Marvin
    knew there were many different ways to get a job
    done, but he expected his manager to give him
    direction to avoid any repercussions if things
    went wrong.

Generational Conflict Scenario 1 - Solution
  • The relationship between Sophie and Marvin became
    strained, leading to productivity problems.
  • Sophie needed to learn how to be more specific
    with Marvin by outlining project outcomes and
  • Because Sophie worked out of the office
    frequently, regular face-to-face meetings were
    also scheduled with Marvin.
  • Saving the relationship ended up in big wins for
    the company and a major improvement in staff

Generational Conflict Scenario 2 - Situation
  • A top-notch, cross-functional team with
    individuals from several different generations
    has been set up to recommend a solution to a
    serious manufacturing problem.
  • After a couple of weeks, the manager responsible
    for the team cannot understand why there is
    constant bickering and nothing is getting done.
  • If the manager were aware of just one
    characteristic of each individual relating to
    communication needs, he or she might understand
    the stalemate.

Generational Conflict Scenario 2 - Situational
  • The Veterans on the team are looking for
    handwritten notes and direct, specific requests
    for work to be done.
  • The Boomers do not like to work independently,
    and they expect to have meetings any time, any
    place and it is fine if they are called day or
  • The Gen-Xers do not want to hear about the
    project outside of work, and dont want to be
    called at home.
  • The Gen-Yers dont want any meetings at all,
    they only communicate via voice mail and e-mail.

Generational Conflict - Scenario 2
  • No wonder the team is having trouble getting
    motivated toward the goal.
  • At the beginning of any team formation, an
    effective leader should consider spending time
    learning how team members wish to communicate.

Personal Experience
  • Personal Experience
  • A few years ago, our Section was re-organized and
    one of our units received a new supervisor.
  • Shortly after the re-organization, the employees
    from unit with the new supervisor approached me
    as the A/Manager with a complaint. They were
    upset and in fact quite incensed about the fact
    that the new supervisor had never met with them
    but rather sent them an e-mail.
  • Im sure you can you guess which generations I
    was dealing with?

Handling Generational Conflict - NSAM
  • Name it.
  • Solve it.
  • Act on it.
  • Move Forward.

  • Meaning?
  • Name it generational differences
  • Solve it awareness and understanding
  • Act on it implement creative solution
  • Move forward leverage assets (emphasize

Where do you fit?
  • Earlier I asked this question.
  • Many of the characteristics may not fit you for
    various reasons, e.g. you may have different
  • The premise of the presentation is to bring
    awareness to the existence of generational
    differences that may cause conflict in the
    workplace and to give possible solutions.

Focus on the Newest Generation in the Workplace
Generation Y
  • As we have seen from the demographics, Boomers
    are numerous at this time and many are managing
    Generation Y.
  • Here are some tips on managing Generation Y.

Treat Generation Y as Colleagues
  • Often upon entering the workforce, Gen-Y is
    sometimes is treated as interns or know-nothing
  • They want to feel like colleagues, not
    subordinates. Treating them with respect, as well
    as asking for it in return creates a strong
  • Everyone wants to be validated!!!

Consistently Provide Constructive Feedback
  • Generation Y crave daily feedback.
  • Let them know what they are doing well and what
    they can improve. Use their desire to want to
    know now as a mentoring tool to give them the
    benefit of your experience.
  • From a managerial perspective, it means that
    errors wont go unchecked for months before they
    are corrected.

Help Generation Y Meet Their High Expectations
  • An admirable characteristic of Generation Y is
    that they want to make meaningful contributions
    they want to make these contributions
  • Generation Ys are highly educated, but still need
    to be schooled in what it means to work for an
  • Be willing to share with a new employee, the
    goals, expectations, and policies and procedures
    of both the organization and the individual work
    group in which they belong.

  • Do not assume that Generation Y has learned
    everything they need in order to be prepared for
    the workforce.

Leverage Unique Gen-Y assets
  • collaborative
  • (their natural propensity for collaboration is
    the foundation for innovation
  • grasp of all things technological
  • desire to make a meaningful contribution
  • support their desire to be innovative

Solutions (NSAM) - Managers
  • Communicate with each generation in their
    preferred style. It is not giving in, its good
    business. It lays a foundation for effective
  • Clearly outline specific expectations early, to
    avoid misunderstandings and confusion.
  • Take a proactive approach to conflict name it,
    solve it, act on it, move forward.

Solutions/Strategies NSAM
  • Clearly state corporate culture
  • Model for them treat me like this, as I treat
    you the way you want, this will lead to mutual
    respect (we dont know yet how they will lead
    because its too early, but we can be the example
    (influence) for how they will lead in the future.
    This can be our investment in the future.
  • Model behaviour dont expect one thing from
    them that you dont and wont deliver yourself,
    be the example.

Solutions/Strategies NSAM
  • Explain To get buy in, tell them why and
    whats in it for them
  • Celebrate them Praise them in public make them
    a star
  • Celebrate together Make the workplace fun 

  • Name it.
  • Solve it.
  • Act on it.
  • Move Forward.

Successes Deliotte
  • Deliotte lost its place on Fortunes magazines
    100 Best company to work for because it
    under-estimated the impact of not understanding
    and dealing effectively with the need of Gen-Y
    employees who did not work after hours when
    requested to do so. Once they realized the
    importance of taking into consideration Gen-Ys
    perspective, and changed its way of relating to
    Gen-Y, Deliotte was back on Fortunes magazines
    100 Best company to work for two years
  • A difficult lesson to learn!!

  • Merrill-Lynch learned that to attract new
    employees, it was necessary to also engage their
  • After their bottom line had been affected, they
    realized that the perspective and characteristics
    of Gen-Y had to be a factor in their recruiting
  • Recruiters learned a hard lesson.

United States Army
  • The United States Army, learned that their famous
    way of treating recruits had to change from
    having drill sergeants shouting out orders to be
    followed without question, resulted in a 10
    decrease in recruiting numbers.
  • A review of their processes revealed that
    recruits had changed and no longer gave respect
    just because it was expected. Recruits wanted
    participation from their drill sergeants. They
    wanted mentors not dictators.
  • Drill sergeants started doing drills with the
  • The results was increased retention of recruits.

Linda Duxbury, leading authority in field
  • I asked her the following question
  • Do you know of a Canadian company that due to
    significant generational differences has made
    organizational changes to accommodate the
  • She answered
  • Lots of companies dealing with it right now -
    but it is like anything else. More talk than
    action. That being said, many in private sector
    (especially high tech) are way ahead.

  • 5 Generations Working Together
  • We now have answers to our questions
  • Veterans, Boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Gen-Z are
    working together in the workplace.
  • They bring generational differences in terms of
    characteristics, values and attitudes which can
    cause conflict
  • Knowing the source of the conflict leads to

Conclusion (contd)
  • Large organizations such as Deliotte,
    Merrill-Lynch and even the U.S. Army have
    successfully dealt with the situation.
  • But as Linda Duxbury suggests, we need more
  • Use NSAM (Name it. Solve it. Act on it. Move

  • So the next time you get into an elevator in the
    workplace, look around and when you step out be
    ready to seize the opportunity to work
    effectively with your generational counterparts!

  • Thank you!!!
  • Have a great day!!!!

End Notes
  • Generations, by Meagan Johnson
  • Boston College, Center for Work and Family, The
    Multi-Generational Workforce Management
    Implications and Strategies for Collaboration.
  • This is Just a Job, Its Not My Career How to
    Manage, Train, and Maintain Your Sanity with the
    New Millennium Generation, by Meagan Johnson
  • http//
  • The Generation Gap. Wikipedia.
  • Zap the Gap How To Manage, Train Maintain Your
    Sanity With Multiple Generations.
  • Zap the Gap How to to Work with Multiple
    Generations. http//
  • FduMagazine Mixing and Managing Four
    Generations of Employees, By Greg Hammill.
  • Three Strategies for Managing Generation Y.
  • The uneasy mix of generations.
  • Managing to manage across generations.
  • How to Manage Different Generations.
  • http//
  • Overcoming Generational Gap in the Workplace
    (United Nations Staff Pension Fund.
  • Journal of Business and Psychology June 2010,
    Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 265-279 , Millennials
    (Lack of) Attitude Problem An Empirical
    Examination of Generational Effects on Work
    Attitudes. http//

End Notes (continued)
  • USAWC Strategy Research Project, The Military
    Profession What Happens When Values Collide?
    By Colonel Joseph J. Frazier, United States Army
    (U.S. Army War College, (Carlisle Barracks,
    Pennsylvania 17013), http//
  • I Have Shoes Older Than You Generational
    Diversity In The Library, Jason Martin,
    University of Central Florida, mjmartin_at_mail.ucf.e
    du. http//
  • Are generational differences in work values fact
    or fiction? Multi-country evidence and
    implications, The International Journal of Human
    Resource Management, Volume 23, Issue 11, 2012,
  • CBC video http//
  • Prof in CBC Documentary on Youth Employment,
    January 17, 2013 - In the News (CBC),
  • Generational Differences Understanding,
    Knowledge Action, Dr. Sean Lyons, University
    of Guelph, http//
  • Leader _at_ uOttawa, Number 3, September 2010.
  • Generation Y Motivating and Training a New
    Generation of Employees P. 2, Carol Verret
  • Linda Duxbury, comments and quotes (through