There are unique differences between boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y. Anytime you bring people together, an assortment of life views and perspectives are represented. That holds true along a lot of lines, not just in the year of birth category. The key is to recognize and respect the individual nuances each person brings to the team instead of categorizing them based on stereotypes. It also doesn’t hurt to find and focus on some shared values.
1. People want a life that includes a healthy balance of work and play. Is that perception of balance as different as we think it is or is it just that Gen-Y refuses to give up play time as easily as other generations have? Gen-X may come in early, stay late and give up weekends, but that doesn’t mean they’re not resenting the time away from family and friends. Gen-Y will pitch in when they know the why, when they see you are also willing to give up your time and when they understand they will get that time back another day. Seems to me that is something that all generations appreciate.
2. People want sincere recognition for a job well done, with emphasis on sincere. I read an article that said Gen-Y was raised being told how amazing they are, so managers need to flatter them in order to motivate them. I found that rather condescending. Just like any other generation, Gen-Y understands the difference between sincere praise and patronizing flattery, and I’m guessing they don’t like the latter any more than anyone else.
3. People want to have fun at work. Gen-Y may be the first generation to expect fun, but I hardly think that they are the only generation that thinks a little more fun at work is a bad thing. What can you do to incorporate more fun at work? Why not ask your team for some ideas?
Do generational differences in the workforce exist? Absolutely. My two cents … recognize the differences and the value those differing viewpoints can bring to your team, respect each person as an individual and work to create an environment where full potential and future leaders are nurtured.