Today’s workforce in most of the organizations sees a co-existence of two or more generations working together under one roof. Each of these generations has their own distinct traits, strengths, and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the two major groups – the Baby Boomer Generation and the Millennials and see how things have shifted over the years.
Baby boomers were born between the years 1946 and 1964. They were raised by a generation who had seen the World War II. They grew up with a solid foundation and started their careers early after completing their education to support their families. They believed in working hard and sincerely to climb up the ladders of success. Some of the characteristics they portray are:
- Workaholics: Baby boomers are highly committed to their work and don’t think twice before putting in some extra hours to finish their tasks. They are ready to sacrifice in order to achieve their goals. They don’t mind the work-life imbalance as they see it as something which is essential in order to become successful.
- Goal-Oriented: Baby boomers were born with better educational and financial opportunities as compared to their previous generation and this makes them more career-focused. They work well in teams and show immense grit while working on a challenging project.
- Loyal: Baby boomers are loyal to their employers. They accept the chain of command and are more comfortable when there is a clear hierarchy in the organization. They respond well to the instructions and directions by their seniors and don’t mind being led to achieving the common organizational goals.
- Resistance to Change: Baby boomers are, more often than not, slow to adapt to new changes in the organization, especially if that means getting them out of their comfort zones. For example, introducing technology into the daily workings of the organization. They are used to following a predictable and set pattern for many years and a drastic change to such conformed norms can sometimes throw them off balance.
Millennials were born between the years 1982 and 2000. This generation has been born to endless opportunities and a world full of freedom to do anything and be anything. This generation is filled with a zeal to achieve many things in life and be exceptionally good at it. Some of the characteristics of this generation include the following:
- Family-Centric: Unlike the baby boomers, the millennial generation prefers a flexible working schedule that lets them work at their own convenience and leave them with enough time to spend it with their families. They value the work-life balance a lot and don’t like to spend too many hours holed up in their offices. They are willing to trade a higher salary with fewer hours of work so they can prioritize their family first.
- Tech Savvy: The millennial generation is good with technology and knows everything there is to know about social media and the Internet and how it can be used to their advantage in the workplace. They are great at multitasking and can handle many responsibilities all at once.
- Achievement-Oriented: Millennials are confident and ambitious. They are loyal to their profession more than their employers. They look for job satisfaction from their work and a learning experience that accentuates their skills. If they are not challenged enough at their workplace with good opportunities and their jobs are not satisfying, they don’t hesitate before looking for other jobs that will provide them with meaningful work and a brilliant learning curve.
- Risk-Takers: Today, we see a lot of new startups surfacing every now and then. The millennial generation is not afraid to take the plunge and try things on their own. For them, trying and failing, thereby getting to learn from their mistakes is more important than not having tried at all. They don’t like to chase stability and are not the ones to settle, but instead, they look forward to bigger challenges and bigger achievements.
Whether you have to lead the baby boomer generation or the millennial generation, it is important to understand these differences and realize that the same leadership styles may not work for the both of them. While the baby boomer generation may prefer face-to-face meetings, the millennial generation could be more comfortable with emails. While the baby boomer generation would look forward to monetary incentives, the millennials might prefer some time off work. As a leader, you must focus on what you can do to ensure there are no clashes among the generations and the work environment is positive for all. As one generation passes on the reigns to the next, everyone can learn something from the other, irrespective of the age gap.