Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leadership: What's Generation Got To Do With It....

If you are like many of today’s leaders, you’re tired. First, you had all of the management fads from the last 20 years to deal with, and now you're dealing with the worst recession since The Great Depression of the 1920’s. Many leaders are looking at a calendar today and asking “When will it all end? When will things get back to normal?”

Here’s the good news. All indicators show that the recession is coming to an end.

Here’s the bad news. Things will never be “normal” again.

At least normal in the vernacular that most of us long for; the normal where things were predictable, where your customers were steady, and where your employees could be counted on to produce quality results.

The new “normal” is going to look very different than that and a lot of it has to do with the generations in the workplace. This is especially true for the two biggest generations in the workplace today, the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

Here’s some more good news, while the two generations could not be more dissimilar in the way they approached their career, they do have a lot in common in what they are looking for in a career today.

The Baby Boomers are the sons and daughters of the WWII generation, sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. Many of these Boomers were children of the ‘60’s, where they defied their parents, challenged authority, and changed the world around them. They weren’t content to just stand still and watch the world go by. Instead they took an active role and worked to change it. In the 1960’s they changed it through protests, civil unrest, and that danged rock 'n' roll music.

And, while they defied authority and worked for change, they also became a significant part of American Business success. They not only reshaped the workforce, but also became the backbone of American growth through their spending habits and work ethic. Their size and passion combined to spur the greatest growth and technological change in the history of the world.

Now, those people are retiring; or at least thinking about retiring. And in that process, they are leaving a void in the American workforce.

The replacement for the Baby Boomers is not Generation X. Gen X is relatively small in size. Instead, the Baby Boomers will be replaced by Generation Y. Generation Y is generally considered to be those born in the late 1970’s through the early 1990’s. And, while it’s size is comparable to the Baby Boomers, that’s where the similarities generally end. While the Baby Boomers were into social change, Gen Y is into X Box. While the Baby Boomers were shaped by Vietnam, Gen Y has been shaped Monica and Bill. And, while the Baby Boomers brought us the Beatles, Gen Y brought us Brittany Spears.

Here is the good news for American Business. In today's workplace, both the Baby Boomers and Generation Y are looking for similar things; things like flexible work schedules, opportunities to learn new things, and chances to give back to their communities. That means you can create a new workplace that will appeal to your 2 biggest members of the workforce. And in that process, you can begin to smooth the transition from the retiring of the Baby Boomer to the inclusion of Generation Y.

And that should finally bring a smile to your face.

If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to forward it to your friends.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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