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Resources - Generations

Comparing Generations

"Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation."
Ronald Reagan

In the 21st century, the once linear nature of power at work, from older to younger, has been dislocated by changes in health, wellness, life expectancy, lifestyle, technology, and knowledge base.

There are six generations in our current society, with four generations in the workplace today:

According to the AARP, the 'Baby Boomer' generation controls about 70% of all disposable income and will continue to do so for the next 15-20 years. Over 1/3 of AARP members are still; in the workforce today. Generation's X-Z are drivers for many of the innovations we see today and they also have on a macro scale some unique alter ego names:

  • NINJA Generation (No Income, Job and No Assests) Generation
  • Microwave Generation (They want everything now, and fast)

Globally-minded youths will comprise about 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Some of their perspectives are:

  • We know we can change the world
  • There are an estimated 2.5 billion of us across the globe
  • Entrepreneurism is our religion
  • We're all about growth
  • We create our own rite of passage
  • We hate/love our options
  • Our best assets are qualitative
  • Our entitlement speaks to our ambition

Whether the above are true or not, they certainly reflect a change in the economy and in our expectations on a broad scale.

Greatest 2%
GENERAL WORKFORCE 87%
  • Silents / Traditionalists (13%)
  • Baby Boomers (26%)
  • Generation X (16%)
  • Generation Y/Millenials (32%)
Generation Z 11%
~100%

This is the first time in American history that we have had four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Each of these generations has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits, and motivational buttons.


GENERATION Born Between... General Characteristics / Tendencies
Greatest 1901- 1929 Methodical. "Been through it before."
Silent or Traditionalist 1930-1945 Structured schedules (Hierarchal), Employer loyalty (pension); Respectful of rules and authority; Experienced-Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 Self-aware; Optimistic; Work best in Teams; Competitive
Generation X 1965-1976 Balanced (work/life quality); Self-reliant; Pragmatic
Generation Y or Millenials 1977-1999 Prefer Multitasking, look for quick results; Fun-seeking; Technology savvy
Generation Z 2000 - Present Active consumers, with a high degree of influence over their parents' purchasing decisions
    NOTE: As a generation is defined not by formal process but rather by demographers, the media, popular culture, market researchers and members of the generation itself, there is no precise consensus as to which birth years constitute any generation. Although the dates given here are generally accepted by all.

These four generations often collide, as their paths cross. They have different values, different ideas, different ways of getting things done, and different ways of communicating in the workplace.

18 'Ridiculous' Startup Ideas That Eventually Became Successful.

Generations are shaped by history and events, technology advances, social changes, economic conditions, popular culture, etc. They are a society-wide peer group who collectively possess a relatively common set of values. In general, members share beliefs and behaviors and a common "location" in the timeline of history.

The ability to recognize and bridge generation gaps can create powerful communications, enlightened understanding and in business... a competitive advantage. The advantages of a multi-generation work group encompass the team being more flexible, stronger decisions being made as they are broad-based, increased innovation and... the team has the intrinsic wherewithal to meet the needs of a globally diverse work environment.



The generation gap between the generations involves a vast difference in cultural norms between a younger generation and their elders. The gap occurs when older and younger people do not understand each other because of their different values, attitudes, experiences, opinions, habits, behavior, interests, and communication styles. This creates misunderstandings, conflicts, stress, discomfort, frustration, and miscommunication with stereotypical designations. In the obvious realization that each of us has our own unique characteristics, it is our differences that make our lives together interesting and rewarding. Everyone has something to contribute.

The Ivy Planning Group which has a very successful practice of doing Diversity Consulting to businesses nationwide, succinctly summarized the generations as follows:

Silent Generation
  • Interested in the system vs. individual success
  • Conformers
  • Detail-oriented
  • Loyal
  • Stable
  • Uncomfortable with conflict
  • Overly resistant to change
  • Thrifty
Baby Boomers
  • The stars of the show
  • Optimistic
  • Competitive
  • "Live to work"
  • Self-centric
  • Readily leave unfulfilling relationships
  • Good at relationships and being team players
  • Not naturally "budget-minded"
  • Judgmental of others
Generation X
  • Masters of their fate
  • Cynical
  • Independent
  • Creative
  • Technologically savvy
  • Impatient
  • Change agents
  • Multi-taskers
  • Balanced
Millenials
  • All for one and one for all
  • Optimistic
  • Collaborative
  • Confident
  • Team-focused
  • Conventional
  • Pressured
  • Civic-minded

In terms of Concepts, the Ivy Planning Group once again offers these general perspectives across the generations (used by permission):

Career Goals
  • Silents... "Build a legacy"
  • Baby Boomers... "Build a stellar career"
  • Generation Hers... "Build a portable career"
  • Millennials... "Build parallel careers"
Work/Life Balance
  • Silents... "Support me in shifting the balance"
  • Baby Boomers... "Help me balance everyone else and find meaning myself"
  • Generation Xers... "Give me balance now, not when I'm sixty-five"
  • Millennials... "Work isn't everything; I need flexibility so I can balance all my activities"
Feedback
  • Silents... "No news is good news"
  • Baby Boomers... "Feedback once a year, with lots of documentation!"
  • Generation Xers... "Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?"
  • Millennials... "Feedback whenever I want it at the push of a button"
Training
  • Silents... "I learned it the hard way; you can, too!"
  • Baby Boomers... "Train 'em too much and they’ll leave"
  • Generation Xers... "The more they learn the more they stay"
  • Millennials... "Continuous learning is a way of life"
Rewards and Recognition
  • Silents... "The satisfaction of a job well done"
  • Baby Boomers... "Money, title, recognition, the corner office"
  • Generation Xers... "Freedom is the ultimate reward"
  • Millennials... "Work that has meaning for me"
General
  • Silents... "Reward"
  • Baby Boomers... "Retool"
  • Generation Xers... "Renew"
  • Millennials... "Recycle"

Our ages tell a great deal about what we have seen, and experienced, in our relative world's. This experience shapes our thinking and gives us different perspectives to the same issues. Regardless of our faith, creed, race or any other factor... these different vantage points are real, by age. Listed below are some sample events that are sure to have had an influence on the respective generation.

Greatest (1901-1929)

Also known as the Turn-of-the-century generation, Enlightened, Age of Discovery

Communication Background
One-on one, formal, reliance on written communications. Focus on manners and etiquette.

Sample key events of those years that shaped thinking:
1900, Kodak introduces $1 Brownie Cameras
1903 , First Flight at Kitty Hawk
1904, New York City subway opens
1905, Einstein proposes his theory of relativity
1908, Ford introduces the Model T
1909, NAACP is founded
1912, Oreo Cookies First Introduced
1912, The Titanic sinks
1913, Personal Income Tax introduced in the US
1914, Panama Canal officially opens
1914, World War I begins
1917, US enters World War I
1918, Daylight Saving Time introduced
1920, First Commercial Radio Broadcast Aired
1920, League of Nations Established
1920, Women are granted the right to vote in the US
1922, Sound motion pictures
1922, Insulin discovered
1927, Charles Lindbergh completed first transatlantic flight
1928, Bubble Gum Invented
1928, First Mickey Mouse Cartoon
1928, First Oxford English Dictionary Published
1928, Penicillin Discovered
1928, Sliced Bread Invented
1929, Great Depression
1929, St. Valentine's Massacre

Traditionalists or Silents (1930-1945)

Also known as Seniors, Matures, Pre-Boomers, Veterans

Communication Background: One-on one, formal, radio and newspapers

Sample key events of those years that shaped thinking:
1931, Christ Monument Built on Rio de Janeiro Hilltop
1932 , Air Conditioning invented
1934, Cheeseburger created
1935, Social Security enacted in the US
1937, Golden Gate bridge opens
1939, Atomic bomb invented
1939-1945, WWII
1940's, Proliferation of radio usage
1941, Pearl Harbor
1941, Jeep invented
1942, T-Shirt invented
1944, D-Day
1945, United Nations created
1945, First computer built

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Also known as: Boomers, Early Boomers

Communication Background: Touch tone phones, Call me anytime

Sample key events of those years that shaped thinking:
1946, Bikinis introduced
1947, Truman Doctrine
1947, Microwave invented
1947, Dead Sea Scrolls discovered
1949, NATO established
1950, Korean War
1950's, The development of TV
1950's, Public schools establish an emergency alert system for nuclear emergencies
1953, Edmund Hillary conquered Mt. Everest
1955 , Polio vaccine found, invention of optical fiber
1957, Sputnik launched
1960 , Peace Corp founded
1960, Civil Rights movement began
1960, Birth Control Pill introduced to the public
1960, Cuban missile crisis
1960, John Glenn first American to orbit earth
1960s, Vietnam War
1962, Light Emitting Diode (LED) invented
1963, Martin Luther King march on Washington
1963, Assassination of John F. Kennedy
1964, Beatles become popular in U.S.
1964, Cassius Clay (a.k.a. Muhammad Ali) Becomes World Heavyweight Champion
1964, Civil Rights Act Passes in US

Generation X (1965-1976)

Also known as: Twenty-Something, Baby Busters, Gen X

Communication Background: Cell phones, Call me only during work hours

Sample key events of those years that shaped thinking:
1965, Japan's Bullet Train Opens
1965, Los Angeles Riots
1966, Star Trek T.V. Series Airs
1967, First Heart Transplant
1967, First Super Bowl
1968, MLK and RFK assassinated
1969, Woodstock
1969, Neil Armstrong, Man on the moon
1969, ARPANET, the Precursor of the Internet Created
1970's - 80's Computers
1970's+, Divorce rate doubles
1973, Roe vs. Wade
1973, Oil Embargo
1974, Watergate

Generation Y (1977-1999)

Also known as: Millenials, Generation Y, Gen Y, Y'ers, Echo Boomers, Next'ers, Net Generation , iGeneration

Communication Background: Immediate delivery technology - cell phones, email, text and picture messaging, Internet.

Sample key events of those years that shaped thinking:
1977, Personal microcomputers
1979, Iran hostage crisis
1980, Layoffs and corporate downsizing
1981, Attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan
1981, AIDS epidemic is officially named
1980's, Reaganomics
1982, Tylenol cyanide murders
1983, Nintendo, Sega videogame consoles
1986, Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
1989, End of Cold War (Berlin Wall comes down)
1991, Gulf War
1991, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill congressional hearings
1992, Rodney King assault
1993, Branch Davidian/Waco standoff
1994, OJ Simpson Trial
1995, DVD invented
1995, Oklahoma City bombing
1997, Princess Diana's death
1998, Clinton/Lewinsky scandal
1999, School shooting in Littleton, CO
1999, Nearly 150 million people surf the Internet each week
1999, Y2K scare
1999, Public schools establish a "code system" for terrorist threats

Millenials views on marriage differ if you have education or not.

Generation Z (2000 - )

Sample key events currently shaping thinking:
2001, 9-11 World Trade Center
2003, Iraq War Begins
2008, Credit market collapse and surging unemployment
2009, 1st African-American US President, Barack Obama
2011, Occupy Wall Street Movement against inequalities and injustices
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The eyes believe themselves; the ears other people.
German Proverb

We judge ourselves by our motives and others by their actions.
Dwight Morrow, American businessman, ambassador and senator

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

Though all society is founded on intolerance, all improvement is founded on tolerance.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright

In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words; people, product and profits. People come first.
Lee Iaccoca, American businessman

The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.
Mother Teresa, Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic Missionary

Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.
Jean de la Fontaine, French poet

The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so.
Mark Twain, American author and humorist

If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking.
General George Patton Jr, World War II US Army Commander

I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.
Dudley Field Malone, American statesman and lawyer

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, Russian writer and pacifist

I can live for two months on a good compliment.
Mark Twain, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American author and humorist

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America - there are no "white" or "colored" signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle.
John F. Kennedy, 35th US President

I pay the schoolmaster, but 'tis the schoolboys that educate my son.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philospher

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish satirist and essayist

In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

When you talk, you repeat what you already know; when you listen you often learn something.
Jaren Sparks

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold onto two opposed ideas at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer

Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.
Mahatma Gandhi, Indian pacifist and leader

I am more of a sponge than an inventor. I absorb ideas from every source. My principal business is giving commercial value to brilliant but misdirected ideas of others.
Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman

If we always view it from the same perspective, we will tend to notice the same things.
Frans Johansson, Author and businessman

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hungarian physiologist

One can resist the invasion of armies; one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.
Victor Hugo, French playwright and activist

Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish writer and historian

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US President

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.
Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.
Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist

The rich would have to eat money, but luckily the poor provide food.
Russian Proverb

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher

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