For the first time in history we have four generations in business. People are now healthier, living longer and retiring later. The generations of Baby Boomer, Gen X, Y & Z creates a rich tapestry of experience, innovation and challenge in business.
The Gen Y’s have typically been touted as difficult to deal with in business. The main complaints are they generally don’t stay around long, are looking to get what they can from an employer and don’t seem to want to do the hard yards. These observations are commonly made by the Gen X and Baby Boomer. Is this a fair generalization? I’ll leave that for you to decide!
I’m not going to dissect all of the generations and what their traits and motivators are. We’d be here forever. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to label people and put them in a box. In fact, it can cause you some huge difficulties. It can lead to completely disengaged teams, disconnected clients and a suffering bottom line.
Leaders now need to be ‘Ageless Thinkers’.
What do I mean by ageless thinking? No longer can we ‘think’ as a generation. Unless you have an entire team and client book of people who are the same generation as you, you’re not going to be successful. We need to shift our thinking from ‘me’ and what works for ‘me’ to ‘us’. And this is a huge distinction.
No longer can we communicate how we prefer to communicate. No longer can we expect people to work how we work. The amount of times I speak with leaders who are frustrated because people are not conducting themselves as the leader used to when they just started out. There’s a reason for that! Society and technology evolves so quickly now, how I grew up is completely different to how our Gen Y’s have grown up.
As leaders we need to disrupt and evolve our thinking to now ensuring we understand what motivates the individual. As an absolute priority we need to understand the strengths and development areas of our people enabling them to leverage and grow. We also need to know who to communicate to engage, rather than repel.
There is so much opportunity in business now with the four generations if we embrace it for what it is – diversity at it’s best where collaboration, sharing, encouraging open discussion and utilizing people’s intelligence will work in your favour. We have a lot to learn.