Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Generation ‘X’ VS Generation ‘Y’: The Show Down (Part 1)

Posted by sweens on January 29, 2009

As a younger individual within the work force I have always heard things relating to generational gaps within the work force and how different generations have a hard time communicating. I once attended a referee seminar where the presenter outlined the different motivations and communication strategies for each generation within the work force and surprising to me, it all seemed true. Let us take a look at some of the generation motivations at work.

Traditionalists: Born 1922 – 1945
Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1963
Generation X: Born 1964 – 1980
Generation Y: Born 1981 – 1995

Traditionalists value structure/consistency, strong work ethic, loyalty, patience, mission and respect. Baby Boomers value teamwork, long hours, hard work, recognition and respect. Generation X values autonomy, informality, competence, ongoing learning, feedback, balance and respect. Generation Y values achievement, structure, collaboration, mission and respect.

Traditionalists: Listen to their war stories; respect their experience; use them as mentors and in technology training, flexible work options and opportunities to learn and develop.
Baby Boomers: Seek recognition and credit; respect hard work; they prefer working in teams; they build consensus, like professional development; use to tap into experience.
Generation X: Prefer autonomy; like frequent feedback and learning opportunities; are flexible; like access to decision-makers; are fun and exciting; prefer results over process.
Generation Y: Prefer structure and guidance; seek input; are team oriented; they maintain technology and manage projects; aren’t time sensitive; prefer challenges and stress mission and values.

 If we take a look at some of these different values and work force traits it is evident that each generation is motivated and values different things both in and out of the work force. These traits and values should be considered when cross-generational relationships exist within the work force. It certainly has been evident to me since I began recruiting that recruiting someone who is from my generation is different then recruiting someone from the Baby Boomers generation.

Understanding these traits from generation to generation will help match the right people to the right jobs. Putting someone from Generation Y into an unstructured environment may not be the best fit. Similarly, putting a Baby Boomer into an environment where he/she is not required to put in long hours and work hard might not be the best fit for them. Understanding this mentality will certainly add to any recruiters tool belt.

Tomorrow we can take a look at the preferred communication methods for each generation because they certainly change from generation to generation and can change the face of a business relationship.

Some of the generational information from this post has been copied from:

2 Responses to “Generation ‘X’ VS Generation ‘Y’: The Show Down (Part 1)”

  1. Jim Cox said

    Excellent blog, with some great observations, but I do take issue with the different groups you listed. There is another group called Generation Jones which is between the Baby Boomers and Gen x:

    We Jonesers tend to have a mix of the traits that you listed for Baby Boomers and Genx. At age 50 I consider myself to be too young to be a Baby Boomer and too old to be a member of Gen X. President Obama is one of use, so we can’t be all bad!

    One thing I would like to add is that as each generation ages, they do acquire some of the traits of the previous generation. It’s part of one generation passing values on to the other.

    That’s of course just my $0.02. Cheers! ~ Jim

  2. gint2000 said

    I’ve got to agree with Jim…the generation chart you use is problematic and doesn’t reflect current thinking. One of the main ommissions is Generation Jones. Like Jim, I know that I’m not a Boomer or Xer, and the GenJones label fits me fine. Here’s an excellent essay about Obama and Generation Jones a couple of weeks ago in USA Today…

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