Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Generations at work II

Recent comments about generations in the workplace suggest that communication will help. Others indicate deeper, more serious clashes.

With thanks to experts on managing generations, try these questions to see how well you know the generations in your office:

1. Which of the following is important for a baby boomer (born 1946-1964)?
a)Build parallel careers.
b)Build a stellar career.
c)Build a legacy.
d)Build a portable career.

2. Which type of feedback do millennials (born 1981-1999) prefer?
a)Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?
b)Once a year, with lots of documentation.
c)No news is good news.
d)Feedback whenever I want it, at the push of a button.

The answers are based on the research and book "When Generations Collide: Who They Are, Why They Clash" by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman.

1. b) A baby boomer wants to build a stellar career.
A traditionalist (born 1900-1945) wants to build a legacy while Generation Xers (born 1965-1980) want to build portable careers. Millennials, brought up on multitasking, think they can build multiple, parallel careers.

2. d) Millennials want feedback whenever they want it at the push of a button.
For traditionalists, no news is good news. For baby boomers, feedback once a year, with lots of documentation will do. Generation Xers: Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?

Of course, generalities do not always fit specific individuals, and many people in the various generations might not act as researchers say. But managers need to know what workers want from their careers and what feedback they expect.

Posted by Judith Welles on Jul 25, 2007 at 12:13 PM


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