While there is a large amount of generalisation and stereotyping surrounding the different generations, it could be useful to understand a few common traits of each generation in order to better manage employees of various ages in one team.
Personality traits largely depend on how an individual was raised, their education, their parent’s values and morals, as well as their work environment, to name a few factors.
It is important to note that individuals should not be stereotyped or generalised based on their birth year; however, there are some broad characteristics, trends and tips for managing each generation in the workplace:
1. The Silent Generation/Traditionalists (born between 1928 - 1945):
This generation is known for their traditional approach to their work. They are loyal and value job stability. They respect authority and hierarchy and are not normally big risk-takers.
Managers can explain what they expect in a clear and concise manner, giving feedback where it is needed. They can also recognise and reward good work and create opportunities for career development.
2. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 - 1964):
This generation is known for their incredible work-ethic, as well as their desire to make a positive impression in the workplace. They value stability and career progression and are known for their confidence and ability to work autonomously; trying to solve problems on their own before asking someone else for help. They also value financial rewards and titles.
Managers can provide a clear career development pathway, as well as opportunities for career growth. They can incentivise their employees through recognition and reward them financially or with adjustments to job titles. They can also make sure they have created an inclusive work environment so that everyone feels they have a chance to make a difference.
3. Generation X (born between 1965 - 1980):
This generation is known for their resilience. They also like to work autonomously and can adapt well to different situations. They value independence in the workplace (aka no micromanagement) as well as the opportunity to grow in their career. This is the first generation that has really highlighted the importance of a work-life balance.
Managers can trust and allow employees to work autonomously, without the need to micromanage and control them. Managers can also help to create an environment where flexibility in the workplace is valued (e.g., employees can choose to work in-office or from home on certain days). Managers can also create opportunities for career growth.
4. Generation Y/Millennials (born between 1981 - 1996):
This generation grew up with a technology boom. They are known for being tech-driven in the workplace. They are also known for being conscious of their social impact. They value work-life balance, work that aligns with their own values and goals, and collaboration with other team members.
Managers can help to create an environment of inclusivity and collaboration within the team. They can also help to create a flexible work environment, allowing employees to work from home or on a hybrid model. Managers can help to provide opportunities for employees to be creative, to problem-solve and share new ideas with their team, while checking in regularly with all team members and providing feedback when need be. Opportunities for additional learning and development can also be provided to employees.
5. Generation Z/Zoomers (born between 1997 - 2012):
This generation grew up with technology at their fingertips. They are tech-focused and are known for their digital influence. They are also known for their entrepreneurial flare. They value working in a positive and flexible work culture. They also value growth and are results driven. They too, are aware of their social impact, valuing inclusion and diversity.
Managers can provide opportunities for practical skills development as this generation appreciates a more hands-on approach. They can provide opportunities for mentorship and rapid career growth. Managers can also help to create a flexible work environment, as well as an inclusive and diverse working culture.
6. Generation Alpha (born after 2012):
This generation is not yet old enough to be in the workplace, but we can predict that they will also be very tech-focused as a result of growing up in such a fast-paced, technologically advanced era. We can also predict that they may want to continue the work-from-home/hybrid model as they will see their parents’ way of work/life balance and understand the benefits.
The aim of the above information is to spark your curiosity about the individuals who make up your team. The information is there to provoke you to better understand each person’s personality, expectations, backgrounds and needs; to find out why they want what they want.
If you can take individual needs and expectations into consideration, you may be able to pinpoint what is not working for your team, what is working for your team, and how to get the best out of everyone in your team.