Each generation is defined by birth date, values and worldviews. This is impacted by whatever is going on around us at the time. In the case of the Millennial generation, it is the rapid growth and evolution of technology. Whereas for Baby Boomers, it was TV and the sense that anything was possible like the first man landing on the moon in 1969.
Differences between worldviews in different generations
|Baby Boomer||Generation X||Millennials|
|Born 1946 – 1964||Born 1965 – 1979||Born 1980 – early 2000s|
Values equal rights and
Strong sense of entitlement
Want structure and direction
Value work/life balance
Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. There are more young people in the world than ever. This is a key statistic for you to be aware of as a leader, especially if (like many of us in senior leadership positions today) you are a Baby Boomer or a Gen Xer.
It is common for ‘older’ leaders to get frustrated with younger generations. They tend to challenge and provoke us and ask a lot of ‘why?’ questions. They may not want to do ‘what’s usually done around here’ and seem to be focused on ‘what’s in it for them’. It can push your buttons, particularly when you’re busy and you just want something done without an argument (those with children will no doubt recognise the frustration in this!).
But by 2020, Millennials will account for 50% of the global workforce, as reported by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in their 2011 study ‘Millennials at work’. At the time of printing this book, that is only four short years away! So it is critical for you as a leader to understand how the younger generation tick and what motivates them because they will be a core part of your workforce and your client base.
Tracey Burton, former Target Corporation Director of Diversity said, ‘When you have a team that is engaged and reflective of your consumer base, you can better understand, anticipate and meet “their” needs.’
To remain relevant to a younger workforce, and ensure the Millennials career is relevant in an uncertain future filled by rapidly advancing technology, it’s up to you embrace this reality and navigate strategies that will close the gap between generations so your workforce will work together.
Leaders need to empower all generations to be the architects of their own careers and help them understand how they will be supported by the workplace. This is why ‘busy’ can’t be used as an excuse not to understand your people any longer. You must make the time to understand your team and your client base for the longevity and relevance of your business and leadership.